Relief is at hand for truckies on the East Coast, following the announcement by the NZ Transport Agency that from Thursday morning it will be allowing restricted heavy vehicles to use the alternative route to SH35 at Busby's Hill.
Relief is at hand for truckies on the East Coast, following the announcement by the NZ Transport Agency that from Thursday morning it will be allowing restricted heavy vehicles to use the alternative route to SH35 at Busby’s Hill.
SH35 at Busby’s Hill south of Tokomaru Bay has been closed since last week due to severe slumping of the hillside. The alternative route has been provided by the Gisborne District Council.
NZTA Central Regional Director Jenny Chetwynd says the NZTA will be allowing heavy vehicles (trucks only, not trailers) onto the alternative route between 7am and 5pm. Use of the route outside these hours will be restricted to light vehicles only. The route comprises Mata Road south of Busby’s Hill, Tuakau Road, and Ihungia Road just north of Te Puia Springs.
For safety reasons, Tuakau Road will still be restricted to one way traffic alternating each hour with northbound traffic through on the odd hours (7am, 9am etc) and southbound traffic on the even hour (8am, 10am etc). Entry into Tuakau Road will be manned on a 24 hour basis, with traffic between 5pm and 7am being let through on a first come first served basis. The road will be open for 15 minute periods at the start of each hour. This is to allow contractors to carry out essential maintenance on the alternative route. This means vehicles should try to arrive at the junction on the hour. If existing queues take longer than 15 minutes to clear, all queuing traffic will be allowed through.
The NZTA advises that the route is narrow with a metal road surface, and all motorists are asked to drive with caution and observe the 50km/h speed restrictions. Motorists are advised to allow and extra hour for their journeys when using the alternative route.
Ms Chetwynd says the NZTA is very pleased to be allowing heavy traffic onto the road.
“We’re well aware this closure has prevented truckies and farmers from getting logs, stock and other important supplies through, and this news will no doubt be a huge relief to them.”
“We just want to thank everyone for being so patient while we worked towards this solution.”
“However, we’re not out of the blocks yet, and the use of this alternative route for restricted heavy vehicles is very dependant on both the weather and how well these roads stand up to the volume of traffic that would usually travel over the state highway.”
“Our primary objective is to offer safe access around the coast for the communities who live there,” says Ms Chetwynd.
“If heavy rain is forecast, or if the alternative route is damaged by vehicles, we may suspend the use by heavy vehicles at short notice.”
Ms Chetwynd says the NZTA is hoping that next week, the highway itself at Busby’s Hill will be reopened to one lane for light vehicles. For this to occur however it depends on the weather and how quickly the contractors are able to drain and stabilise the hillside.
Ms Chetwynd says if the highway is reopened to one lane next week, heavy traffic would be asked to keep using the alternative route.
“We’re continuing to carry out urgent improvements on Tuakau Road to ease a number of narrow sections to make this route more accommodating for heavy vehicles.”
“Our goal is to have heavy traffic back onto the state highway across Busby's Hill as soon as we are confident it is stable enough for trucks to drive across safely.”
The NZTA reminds motorists to check www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) for up-to-date information on highway conditions and closures.
The NZTA thanks locals and motorists for all their patience and understanding over the last week.
The NZTA will continue to issue updates on this closure as developments arise.
For more information please contact:
NZ Transport Agency
M: 027 309 8725