The NZ Transport Agency says it planning to have State Highway 6 near Harihari on the West Coast re-opened around midday next Tuesday (8 January).
“Next Tuesday’s our target providing we get the Wanganui River diverted and that there is no more bad weather,” says the NZTA’s Senior Asset Manager for the West Coast, Mark Pinner. “We are aware of how important this link is to the Coast and others regions and we’re confident we’ll get the highway re-opened as planned if there are no setbacks.”
Flood waters from the river swept away a 40 metre-long of SH6 at the northern approach to the bridge last Wednesday (2 January).
“Water levels have dropped about a metre overnight and that’s helping us divert the river back to its original course so that we can start out preparations to re-build the highway lost in the flood,” Mr Pinner says.
The river is still too high for structural engineers to make a detailed inspection of the bridge, but Mr Pinner is confident it is safe.
“The piles supporting the bridge have been driven deep into the river bed and from what we can see already, they appear to have withstood pressure from the huge volume of flood water. However, we will still be taking a very close look at the bridge when levels drop further so that we are satisfied it is safe to use.”
Contractors are using heavy earth moving equipment to lift large boulders along the edge of the Wanganui River to re-direct it.
Mr Pinner says the lost section of the highway will be rebuilt with rocks and gravel.
“The re-construction will be temporary one and further upgrades will be needed later,” Mr Pinner says. “We recognise that this closure is affecting the lives and livelihoods of the tourists, transport operators and farmers who rely on this lifeline. Getting SH6 reopened is our number one national priority and we thank people for their patience and understanding while we finalise our plan of attack."
Note: The NZTA plans to issue updates around midday daily to keep people informed of progress to re-open SH6.