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Progress being made on re-opening Milford Road

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The NZ Transport Agency says SH94 between Te Anau and Milford Sound will not re-open until late Friday after being closed last Thursday by avalanches.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) says SH94 between Te Anau and Milford Sound will not re-open until late Friday after being closed last Thursday by avalanches.

This is the longest period the road has been closed by avalanches for several years. The road is blocked by snow debris in at least six places between the Hollyford turn off and the Te Anau side of the Homer Tunnel. There are two avalanches on the Milford Sound side of the Homer Tunnel side with one of these blocking the tunnel exit. NZTA Southland Area Manager Peter Robinson says some progress has been on removing avalanche debris from the road and this work should be helped by a more favourable weather forecast on Thursday and Friday. Weather permitting the contractors will work around the clock to try and clear the road.

“The NZTA operates a sophisticated avalanche management programme on the most at risk sections of the SH94 between the Hollyford turnoff and Milford Sound. Part of this programme involves bringing down unstable snow in a controlled way using snow bombing techniques. These have been successfully used for several years and decrease the risk of snow debris from the surrounding mountains blocking the road”.

Mr Robinson says rain and snow in the last two or three weeks along with earthquakes has affected the stability of the snow on the surrounding mountains in a way that has not been seen for at least ten years. The safety of road users is paramount and the road will not re-open until the NZTA and its contractors are confident the avalanches do not pose a risk.

Mr Robinson added that avalanches are part and parcel of managing a road that at its highest point is about 1,000 metres above sea level. 

The latest information on SH94 road conditions is available at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) or by phoning 0800 44 44 49.

For more information please contact:

Bob Nettleton
Regional Communications Advisor
T   DDI 03 951 3005   
M  021 954 928   
F   03 951 3013
E-mail bob.nettleton@nzta.govt.nz

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