The NZ Transport Agency says it is working to re-open the section of State Highway 2 affected by a slip in the Waioeka Gorge 24hrs a day from Tuesday next week.
Transport Agency Regional Transport System Manager, Rob Campbell thanks motorists for their patience, especially over the past few days while the gorge has had heavy rain and was closed for a period of time.
“Our contractors have worked hard to build new lanes away from the slip to create a buffer zone where all drivers will be able to safely use the one-way section through the gorge site day and night, with the aid of traffic lights, says Mr Campbell.
Mr Campbell says the NZ Transport agency is committed to keeping this vital route open and getting both lanes open 24 hours a day, but the slip site still needs to be monitored for safety reasons.
“We know the cause of the slip was likely to be a combination of heavy rain and ice. Once the water gets into the cracks from the hill above it gradually erodes and weakens the rock. When this water freezes the ice expands and lifts rocks which widens existing cracks until they become weak and fall off.”
“For safety reasons, we will have spotters on site for several weeks monitoring the hillside for any signs of instability, and we’re currently looking at technology that can help us monitor the site remotely. While our spotters are on site we will continue to have a stop/go operation, which ensures we can very quickly close the road in an emergency and keeps our spotters safe.
“We want to remind motorists that there is still a chance that the gorge may need to be closed again for a period of time if weather conditions require it for safety reasons. We know that large amounts of water will increase the risk of more material coming loose, and we will not compromise on safety,” says Mr Campbell.
Since the initial slip came down on June 24, contractors have built a new lane to shift the road further away from the face of the slip site and are over the next few days they are finishing off the installation of barriers and fences before the road re-opens 24/7 next week.
Please remember that through until Tuesday the gorge will continue to open reduced hours. The outer closure points will be opened at 6:45am and then closed again at 4:30pm. This ensures that vehicles can pass through the slip site during daylight hours