Waka Kotahi contractors have been working since first light today to clear debris, assess damage and where possible re-open vital routes to reconnect severed South Island communities.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Journey Manager Tresca Forrester says as floodwaters have receded crews have succeeded in re-opening SH1 between Picton and Blenheim, as well as re-opening SH7 both from Reefton to Springs Junction (Rahu Saddle) and from the Hanmer Turnoff to Springs Junction (Lewis Pass).
She says a top priority for Waka Kotahi is restoring access to Nelson, with SH6 between Blenheim and Nelson expected to re-open from Renwick to Rai Valley later this afternoon, and SH6 between Murchison and Kawatiri/SH65 Shenandoah targeted for re-opening early this evening.
“As a number of sites on this route are still under repair, for safety reasons access through some parts of the route will only be via escorted convoys, and people planning to travel to Nelson via SH65/6 should be prepared for delays of up 30 minutes through the Shenandoah Route.
“The only South Island roads that are expected to remain closed overnight are SH6 through the Lower and Upper Buller Gorge, and SH63 from Renwick to Tophouse Road. Contractors are continuing to monitor these routes, and a further update will be provided at midday tomorrow (19 July).
“We know how important these routes are for South Island businesses and communities, and they will be re-opened as soon as we are able to safely do so.”
Ms Forrester reminds everyone driving in the region to take extra care and be aware that they are likely to encounter potholes, surface water and possibly debris on some re-opened roads, with many operating with lane restrictions or under temporary lower speed limits.
“With the massive rainfall we’ve just experienced, many areas will also remain highly susceptible to slips, or to further flooding if the rain returns. Please continue to keep safe and take extra care out on the roads.”