The NZ Transport Agency says State Highway 6 near Harihari on the West Coast remains closed as contractors try to divert the flood-swollen Wanganui River so that they can better assess the state of the single lane bridge spanning the river.
Forty metres of the northern approach to the bridge was swept away by flood waters yesterday (Wednesday, 2 January).
“We are aware of the impact the closure is having on holiday makers and tourism and we are committed to getting the highway opened as quickly as possible, but the NZTA needs to be satisfied that the bridge is safe for drivers before we can do that,” says the NZTA’s West Coast Senior Asset Manager, Mark Pinner.
Mr Pinner says the NZTA will have more detailed information later today regarding a timetable to re-open the highway.
“The flood has changed the direction of the river, and contractors are now using heavy rocks to try to force it back into its original course. This will allow structural engineers to inspect the condition of the piers driven into the river bed to support the bridge. Flood waters haven’t dropped much and our contractors have been working in some pretty difficult conditions.”
Mr Pinner says the wash-out could be too long for a Bailey Bridge to provide a temporary link, and the NZTA is expecting that the northern approach may have to be extended to and beyond a section of the existing bridge to provide the quickest means of access across the river again.