State Highway 1 through the Mangamuka Gorge will close to all traffic at midnight on Sunday, 10 January, after being open to a single lane for light vehicles for three weeks over the Christmas holiday period.
The closure will allow a resumption of work to fix the road that was undermined by a big slip last July.
“Waka Kotahi thanks all those who drove through the gorge for travelling to the conditions and requirements of light vehicles. It shows the public are also helping us during this time,” says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Northland System Manager, Jacqui Hori Hoult.
“The repair work is not finished so we have to close the road again to complete construction of the piling wall to support the road and make it safe for all road users.
“The drilling rig and other heavy machinery required for this work take up the full width of the road, so there’s no room for vehicles to pass during this phase of works. Clearing the road to allow traffic through will take up too much of the work day and simply delay completion of the repair.
“Waka Kotahi understands the inconvenience to motorists of having to go via the SH10 detour route which adds time and cost to the journey, but we believe getting on with a permanent fix is the most desirable solution. Drill crews will return on Monday and work double shifts (20 hours/day) as they did before Christmas to expedite the work.”
Before the Christmas break, 31 concrete piles were drilled into the rock face under the road, but another 16 are required to ensure the long term safety and stability of the road.
“As long as the weather remains good, we expect the rest of the piling work to take about three weeks. We will then look at whether the road can be opened to some vehicles for a time during the day. We’ll know more on that in a week or so,” says Ms Hori-Hoult.
“For now, we ask motorists and the local community to bear with us as we work as quickly as possible to complete the piling work. We will reopen the road in some form as soon as it’s possible to do so.”
SH1 through the gorge was closed by eight slips during a 1-in-500 year rain event that hit Northland last July causing extensive flooding and road closures. The big slip under the road on the northern side of the summit had kept the road closed until the Christmas opening.
“At this stage we plan to have the road restored to two lanes by mid 2021, but it could be sooner depending on the weather and work progress. We’re committing all available resources to getting it done,” says Ms Hori-Hoult.
While SH1 through the Mangamuka Gorge is closed, the recommended detour route to the Far North is SH10, which adds 20-30 minutes to the journey. Motorists are advised to plan ahead and allow extra time.
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