The first convoy of essential services vehicles and material in and out of Milford Sound Piopiotahi, since torrential rain closed the highway two weeks ago, went well on Saturday.
“Twenty-five vehicles were able to get in and/or out of Milford Sound Piopiotahi and the highway temporary surface performed well,” says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Journey Manager Peter Brown.
State Highway 94 is officially closed to all traffic bar emergency vehicles after the recent rain which significantly damaged several parts of the highway between Cascade Creek/ the Hollyford turnoff and Milford Sound Piopiotahi.
“The decision was made on Saturday to cancel the Sunday and Monday convoys given the potential for more slips given the forecast for rain,” says Mr Brown.
“However, convoys of essential services vehicles (see list below for qualifying factors) will resume tomorrow, Tuesday, 18 February.”
Convoys will run Tuesday and Wednesday, 18 and 19 February, departing from Cascade Creek carpark at 8 am with another convoy at 9 am and two return trips at 4 pm and 5 pm. (See details below).
More rain is forecast for Thursday so those convoys could well be cancelled, says Mr Brown. “Many of these new slips along SH94 are in places we have not seen before so we need to be cautious about how they will react with more rain, given the area is so wet already,” he says.
Twice a day - in and out:
Drivers will need to be at these two start and end places at these times to be part of the convoy.
Vehicles and drivers who will be able to take part in the essential services convoys will involve people transporting the following items: fuel, food, freight, septic/ rubbish disposal, trades goods.
Also contractors, staff of Milford Sound businesses in vans or coaches, commercial fishing industry and associated trades, air traffic control personnel.
The aim is to increase access to Milford Sound Piopiotahi to include tourists/visitors on buses from Friday, 21 February. (Again, subject to weather and repairs to the road allowing access.)
Buses with a minimum of eight* seats will be able to join the convoy at these times and places. There will be three convoys:
“The Transport Agency will be working closely with Emergency Management Southland given the State of Emergency remains in place until at least tomorrow when it will be reviewed,” says Mr Brown.
“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.”
Please note, SH94 is currently officially closed to all traffic outside the escorted convoys and for emergency services only.
*The minimum number of seats per bus has been reduced from ten to eight from our original outline (18 February 2020)
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