Geotechnical engineers are still assessing the slip that’s forced the closure of State Highway 11 between Paihia and Kawakawa in Northland.
Initial assessments were that it would be two weeks before the hillside could be made safe for the road to reopen, but the Transport Agency’s System Manager Steve Mutton says the slip in the Lemon’s Hill area appears to be bigger than first thought.
Clearing of vegetation has started and site preparation work is under way, but heavy rainfall expected next week as ex Tropical Cyclone Gita hits the country is expected to delay the start of any larger earthworks, says Mr Mutton.
The new slip, which came down on Tuesday, is much larger than the crumbling of the hillside that has occurred recently. A reduced speed limit and warning signage has been in place in the area.
Mr Mutton says the safety of road users and work crews is the priority.
“We can't be sure that further movement won't occur as we work to stabilise the hillside. The road will remain closed until we can be sure that it’s safe.”
Traffic between Paihia and Kawakawa will use the detour via SH1, SH10 and SH11 (see detour map). This will add 10-20 minutes to the journey. The Transport Agency urges motorists to plan ahead and allow extra time.
Mr Mutton says crews will be working from the top of the hill and may not be visible from road level.
“Barriers will be placed across the road at the northern and southern ends of the worksite to prevent local traffic from travelling through the area.”
“We ask that for their own safety road users follow the traffic management advice given and not try to use the road past the slip.”
“Although the road appears to be mostly clear the hillside is unsafe and movement could occur at any time without warning.”
The Transport Agency thanks motorists and local residents for their patience and cooperation while work to make the hillside safe is carried out.
Check the Transport Agency’s website http://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic(external link) for the latest highway information or sign up to www.onthemove.govt.nz(external link) for up-to-date information on what is happening on the route you plan to travel; freephone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS for national and regional travel updates.