Work is on track at the Diana Falls slip site for State Highway 6 through Haast Pass to re-open to night-time traffic from next Wednesday 5 November – the first time since September 2013.
The NZ Transport Agency’s Regional Performance Manager Pete Connors says work was completed at the end of last week installing the first of the two layers of mesh that covers the vertical rock face, rising about 30 metres above the highway.
“The second layer of finer mesh began to be installed at the weekend. This is being laid over the top of the ring mesh and the two layers clipped together using 8000 clips.”
State Highway 6 has been closed at night through Haast Pass since a slip at the Diana Falls site on 10 September last year brought more than 40,000 cubic metres of rock and debris onto the highway.
Mr Connors says once work on the bottom fence is completed later this week, the Geovert team will move back up the slip face to the second fence where the posts for the rockfall protection fence have been drilled and the already mesh hung.
“Some work still remains to clip the drapes of mesh together and tension the rockfall protection fence across the slip face.”
Diana Falls has been the most significant slip on the West Coast highway network for many years and one of the most challenging.
He says when the highway re-opens next week to 24/7 traffic, the Transport Agency will have installed at the site the most complex rockfall protection system ever to be installed in Australasia.
“There will be more than 30 tonnes of steel mesh on the hillside and each of the three fences will be capable of stopping a boulder weighing up to 16 tonnes – the size of a small car – travelling down the hillside at a speed in excess of 90km/h.
“Some work will remain to reinstate two-lane access through the area and intermittent closures of up to half an hour are expected during the next few days as this work is completed.”
Mr Connors says he thanked the local community and West Coast’s tour operators and businesses for their support and patience during the last 14 months – “I know the closures, particularly in the early days, had an impact on business but I appreciate the goodwill shown by everyone.”
The Geovert team completes the installation of the first layer of ring mesh on the vertical rock face that rises about 30 metres up the Diana Falls slip beside State Highway 6.
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