The work to stabilise the slip face that closed State Highway 2 through the Waioeka Gorge in March is now complete says the NZTA, with the work to fully reinstate the road to begin later next month.
NZTA Bay of Plenty state highways manager Brett Gliddon says the seven months of work to stabilise the cliff was completed yesterday which means the site can now operate without controlled traffic management on a 24/7 basis.
'We have always said that once the slip face is stabilised that we will then move to traffic flowing similar to a one-way bridge situation where one direction has priority and courtesy is required.'
He says starting from this week SH2 at this section of the gorge will operate without traffic management in place.
'This is still a construction area and we want motorists to treat it as such by driving to the conditions and applying the same rules as they would use when driving through a single lane bridge.'
The road will remain a single lane until the permanent works are completed at which point we will reopen as a two lane road.
Mr Gliddon says to date close to 100,000 cubic metres of earth material has been removed from the old road and now the agency will focus on repairing the highway as well as putting in place permanent measures to minimise the impact of large slips on the road.
'The full reinstatement works will commence shortly and continue over the summer months.'
Mr Gliddon says the permanent works involve moving the highway towards the Opatu Stream to provide room for a slip protection structure to be constructed at the base of the slope. He says the structure will help to confine a volume of material that comes down from the slope and will provide a protection barrier for the road and users.
'The history of this slope tells us that future large scale slips are always possible and tend to occur every 12-14 years, we are never going to prevent these from happening, what we can do is minimise the effect they have on the road.'
The existing state highway will be realigned towards the stream from its original location. Mr Gliddon says the work to fully reinstate the highway is expected to cost up to $11 million and could be completed by mid 2013.
For up to date information on the Waioeka Gorge closure visit our website www.nzta.govt.nz/waioeka-gorge. We encourage all motorists to visit our current highway conditions website at www.nzta.govt.nz or call 0800 4HIGHWAYS (0800 4 4449) before planning their journey.