Good progress building a four-wheel drive, single lane route into Milford Sound Piopiotahi has been made in the past few days of sunshine, says Graeme Hall, System Manager, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
“A huge amount of construction work is needed to restore State Highway 94, the Milford Road, to a two-lane, sealed highway. The Transport Agency’s aim in coming days is to reopen the route as a construction road in the first instance so that urgently needed services, tradespeople, and contractors can get into Milford Sound Piopiotahi.”
Mr Hall noted that essential services at this early stage would not include tourism traffic, buses, camper vans or any private or independent travellers. Other parts of Fiordland are open for tourism and some operators are flying people into Milford Sound Piopiotahi.
“Emergency Management Southland has extended the State of Emergency for Southland, including Fiordland, until next Tuesday. We will continue to construct an essential services-only route as we have been doing and in full consultation and agreement with Emergency Management Southland, get the essential-services road open once it is safe to do so. This is likely to be via convoys with strict supervision given the rockfall risk and need to keep on repairing key sections of the highway.”
Mr Hall noted that another smaller storm is forecast in a week’s time (possibly 17 February), so any work to firstly open and then keep that temporary route open, even to supervised convoys, will be heavily dependent on the weather.
The second stage of work on the Milford Road involves the close co-operation and collaboration with the tourism operators and Department of Conservation to see how road connections to the Sound can be re-established while also allowing the extensive repairs between the East Gate (near the Hollyford turnoff) and the Chasm to be completed over winter and spring.
“This is likely to involve convoys of vehicles at specific times of the day however, the detail is still to be refined with the tourism operators at this stage. We hope to provide more detail on this in coming days.
“We thank everyone for their patience while this essential work is underway. We are doing our best to provide a safe route for all road users and restore this important link to Milford.”
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