Work has started to clear the huge slip that’s closed State Highway 11 between Paihia and Kawakawa in Northland since last Tuesday. But it may be another 4 to 6 weeks before the road reopens.
Local Ngāti Hine Iwi representatives have blessed the site at Parengarenga (commonly known as Lemons Hill), geotechnical assessment of the site has been completed and a plan worked out for clearing the 80 metre wide slip and stabilising the hillside for the future.
Engineers estimate that about 10,500 cubic metres – that’s about 650 truckloads - of earth and rock sitting precariously above the roadway and face of the slip will have to be removed, says the Transport Agency’s System Manager Steve Mutton.
“Because of the large quantity of loose material and the high risk of it moving again, our crews will work from the top down with just one excavator in the early stages. “
“The hillside is still unstable. There are access constraints at the top of the hill, so our crews will proceed with caution and at this stage will not work at night. The work programme will be under constant review.”
“Our aim is to reopen the road as soon as possible given the importance of the link to the Bay of Islands for locals and tourists. But we must take a safety first approach and, depending on the weather, the road may be closed for another 4–6 weeks,” says Mr Mutton.
While the road is closed, the Transport Agency asks local residents to not try to drive past the slip. The road is closed to ensure the safety of our crews and all road users. It’s a very unstable situation, says Mr Mutton.
The signposted detour between Kawakawa and Paihia is via State Highways 1, 10 and 11. The detour will add another 10–20 minutes to the journey. The Transport Agency thanks motorists and visitors to the region for their understanding and patience during this time.
Check the Transport Agency’s website: www.nzta.govt.nz(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.