The Milford Road from the Homer Tunnel through to Milford Sound is now officially operating 24/7 again.
The Transport Agency says night time closures had been in place on the road for several months due to the rock fall risk at the western entrance to the Homer Tunnel.
Southland Area Manager Peter Robinson says the decision to 24/7 was made as snow and ice have effectively locked up the faces of the rock and debris field above the western entrance to the Homer Tunnel, including the site where a 2,000 tonne section of unstable rock was successfully removed in June.
“A high magnitude blast like the one used to remove this rock usually causes the rock behind the blast zone to slowly “relax” and is likely to create some more loose debris over time. Once the weather improves over the spring and summer period the aim is to go back and complete debris removal work at the site.
This will be carried out in a way that minimises disruptions for road users and local tour operators and as part of that, we will be talking with the Milford Sound businesses, to discuss the best timing to manage this work.
Mr Robinson said that until the loose rock removal work is completed the temporary portal extension at the western entrance of the tunnel will remain. Work has just finished on the structure to help it withstand wind blast from possible avalanches. This involved pinning the various tunnel portal units to the road using 3 metre long earth nails that were driven into the ground by specialised equipment.
Having the road open 24/7 is great news for visitors, local tour operators and the wider community he said.
The latest Milford Road rockfall information can be found at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link)