Aim to reopen gorge 24/7 by Tuesday

The New Zealand Transport Agency hopes to reopen State Highway 2 through the Waioeka Gorge 24 hours a day from Tuesday.

Since the initial slip came down on June 24, closing the gorge for a week, contractors have built a new lane to shift the road further away from the face of the slip site.

Over the next few days, they are finishing off the installation of barriers and fences before the road reopens fully next week.

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.

NZTA regional transport system manager Rob Campbell thanks motorists for their patience, especially while the gorge was closed earlier this week due to heavy rain.

“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.”

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.”

The New Zealand Transport Agency hopes to reopen State Highway 2 through the Waioeka Gorge 24 hours a day from Tuesday.

Since the initial slip came down on June 24, closing the gorge for a week, contractors have built a new lane to shift the road further away from the face of the slip site.

Over the next few days, they are finishing off the installation of barriers and fences before the road reopens fully next week.

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.

NZTA regional transport system manager Rob Campbell thanks motorists for their patience, especially while the gorge was closed earlier this week due to heavy rain.

“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.”

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.”

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