The NZ Transport Agency says its working as quickly as possible to get one lane open on State Highway 1 about 40 kilometres north of Kaitaia after a washout closed the road on Friday afternoon.
The washout, south of Pukenui between Whalers Road and Lamb Road, created a hole in the road about 20 metres wide and 4-5 metres deep.
While SH1 is closed there is no appropriate alternative route between Kaitaia and Cape Reinga. Motorists should avoid the area and delay their journeys.
“There is a significant workforce and heavy lifting equipment on site and we are working to have one lane open to traffic as soon as possible but that is unlikely to be before the middle of next week”, says the Transport Agency’s Northland System Manager, Jacqui Hori-Hoult.
“More rain is forecast for the region so that may affect progress. When the lane is opened it will operate with stop/go traffic management in place.”
“The Transport Agency and Far North District Council do not support suggestions that motorists can drive on 90 Mile Beach or on unsealed private roads through the forest to get around the washout. These are high risk options for drivers and their vehicles if they are not experienced at driving in these conditions,” says Ms Hori-Hoult.
“Drivers travelling on the beach or through the forest do so at their own risk, and drivers should be aware that the forest route will be degraded quickly as vehicles pass along it.”
Work currently underway involves diverting the stream and placing new rock and material to provide a base to lay 24 metres of 2.1 diameter pipes across the road. Crews will then backfill with 3000-4000 cubic metres of material to cover the pipes back up to road level.
“Ground conditions are challenging. They’re working 4-5 metres below the road level and loading in sand and rock to support the pipes. They’ll only work in daytime hours for safety reasons.”
The Transport Agency is working closely with Civil Defence, emergency services and local authorities on a response to support those in the area who may be affected by the road closure.
The Transport Agency says there are two excavators and seven trucks working on the SH1 road repair. No resources have been taken from the Lemons Hill slip repair work on SH11 between Paihia and Kawakawa. That work is continuing.
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