Progress at the Diana Falls slip site to re-open State Highway 6 through Haast Pass to two-lane and 24/7 traffic has been hampered by the recent stormy weather conditions that have lashed the region.
The NZ Transport Agency’s Senior Network Manager Mark Pinner says in the last month heavy rainfall and strong winds have closed the highway from Haast township to Makarora on two occasions.
"The weather has brought rocks weighing up to three tonne and other material onto the road, causing irreparable damage to some of the anchor post bases that had been drilled into the slip face to support the rockfall fences that are being installed.
"Unfortunately some of this work has had to be re-done as it was damaged before we could begin to install the first of the fences. It’s now unlikely we will be able to begin to install the first fence until next month."
All the material for the rockfall fences, ordered from Switzerland and Australia, has arrived on site and is ready for installation.
Mr Pinner estimates about 18 days of work has been lost at the site, both from damage to the work that had been completed and the time lost from when it was unsafe for the team to be working on the slip face.
"The team had been making good progress and while the weather has had an impact, the flip side is it has brought down a lot of rock that would have eventually made it way down the mountainside. Longer term, this should mean we will have a more stable site."
He says work is already underway re-drilling the damaged anchors and it is now expected that it will be later in September before the work will be completed.
"We are in the progress of reviewing the work programme to look at whether we can make any changes that will enable us to get the highway opened any quicker.
"We always knew it would be a difficult time to be working on site over winter but it has always been our goal to have the highway back to two-lane and 24/7 traffic in time for the next tourist season."
Mr Pinner says once the first rockfall fence is installed at the top of the slip face, it will provide a greater level of protection for those working on the slip face and help with progress as the remaining two fences are installed.
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