Work is underway to strengthen the cliff face on Rocks Road, to keep motorists and cyclists safe.
Regional Performance Manager, Central for the NZ Transport Agency, Mark Owen, says the cliff face above Rocks Road is subject to ongoing weathering from storms and other weather events, which result in rocks falling on the road from time to time.
“Rocks Road has historically needed regular maintenance work, both to the cliff face and the seawall on the other side of the road. Following the storm in December 2011, some areas of the cliff face above State Highway 6 were destabilised.
“We’ve been progressively working our way along the cliff face to address the areas of highest risk, and to make the rock face safer and more stable. This next phase will reduce the potential for material falling onto the road. It will also reduce the risk of a major rock slide should another major weather event happen in the future.
“Essentially, we’ll be stabilising a number of sections of the cliff face by drilling anchors into the rock face, installing drainage pipes for groundwater and then applying a layer of steel mesh and either sprayed concrete or a special surfacing to the cliff face.
“This work is typically easier to do over the summer months, but because of the amount of work required, this will extend through the winter period. We want all road users to be aware that the work is happening, both to allow extra time for their journey and to take extra care travelling through the work area. We’ll do our best to minimise any disruption, but at the end of the day, delays are a small price to pay for a safer and more secure road. Our number one priority is to provide a safe passage for all road users, including cyclists, and ensure a resilient route for years to come.”
Work will be carried out seven days a week where necessary. Crews will require access to the cliff face which means that while lanes in either direction will remain open during the day, the lanes will be moved over and their width reduced. The Agency is urging motorists to keep an eye out for cyclists and to share the road.
“As the work does affect the cycle lanes, cyclists who want to use the road will be sharing with traffic. We urge motorists to take extra care and share the road – if it means hanging back and taking a few extra seconds, it’s worth it to keep people safe. It’s also vital that motorists observe the 30km/h speed limit – it’s not a rough guide, it’s the maximum speed you are allowed to travel through the site.”
Cyclists will either have to transfer over to the sea side of the road and walk their bikes along the footpath, or merge with traffic, requiring extra care past the work site. There is likely to be single lane stop/go at times during the night, as and when required, and the speed limit through the work site will be reduced to 30km/h for the safety of both road users and work crews.
Meanwhile, routine maintenance work is proceeding on the Rocks Road seawall. The work mainly consists of minor patch repairs to damaged concrete.
Rocks Road carries 20,000 cars and trucks every day between Port Nelson and Tahunanui. It is also an important and popular route for cyclists and pedestrians.
Specialist contractors will install 219 rock anchors, 1,660m2 of 'shotcrete' and nearly 1,400m2 of mesh.