A massive effort by roading contractors over the past two days is paying off tonight with the reopening of State Highway 6 between Harihari and Whataroa, says the NZ Transport Agency.
The highway, linking the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers with other highway routes around and across the South Island, will be one lane with traffic signals initially.
Tomorrow (Sunday) it will open for ten minutes at the top of the hour between 7 am and 7 pm as work continues clearing the piles of debris.
The highway was closed just after midnight Thursday night after close to 180mm of rain in a very short time brought down trees, rocks and soil, completely blocking the highway for close to half a kilometre.
“Transport Agency highway contractors assisted by other local contractors have put in a huge effort since then and cleared up to 40,000 cubic metres of mud, trees and gravel from a 400 metre section of highway,” says Transport Agency Maintenance Contract Manager Moira Whinham.
“Seven contracting companies from around the South Westland area have provided resources to enable the site to be cleared faster than initially thought,” she says. “Good weather has also helped the work progress more quickly than could have been the case.
“We have been able to control the creek and return it to its channel more easily than expected and fortunately the large box culvert was undamaged by the debris flow.
“Thankfully there is only minor damage to the road surface although there is still a lot of mud around and drivers are urged to take care for the next few days. We appreciate people’s patience while the highway is being fully restored and their journeys may be delayed.”