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Desert Road to close for urgent surfacing works


State Highway 1 will close between Rangipo and Waiouru later this week, to allow the completion of surfacing works to resolve a number of areas that have deteriorated significantly over the winter period.

The closure will be in place between 9am and 6pm, for both Thursday 4 and Friday 5 August. During this time road users will need to use State Highways 46, 47, 4 and 49 to detour around the western side of Mt Ruapehu via National Park.

While the disruption this closure causes is unfortunate, closing the road is the only suitable option due to the locations contractors need to work in, says Cara Lauder, Waikato System Manager, Maintenance and Operations.

“In some locations the road is too narrow to allow vehicles to safely drive past an active worksite where crew are operating various machinery. The safety of both road users and contractor crews is of utmost importance to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, and this means we need to close the road to provide a safe working and driving environment.

“Over recent months we have received feedback from road users that sections of the Desert Road are not meeting their expectations. Sections of this network have not held up well over the recent colder, wetter months, and instead of continuing to temporarily fill potholes as they appear, we have made the decision to apply a more permanent solution sooner rather than later.

“Work needs to take place during daylight hours, as ground temperatures are too cold at night during winter to allow asphalt to be laid successfully. We want to utilise the window of fine weather at the end of this week by getting in and completing as much as we can. We realise that undertaking such work at short notice is disruptive, however this decision was made with the longer-term user experience in mind.”

Later this year the resealing season, which commences in October, will see over 35 lane kilometres of chipseal and asphalt surfacing applied on the Desert Road, and nearly 2 lane kilometres of road that will be completely rebuilt. A further programme of work will be completed during 2023/24.

Waka Kotahi acknowledges that this work will be disruptive for road users, and thanks them for their understanding.