The NZ Transport Agency says it will be monitoring the temporary diversion route through the Waioeka Gorge near Gisborne as severe weather is forecasted to hit the Eastern Bay of Plenty early this week.
NZTA Bay of Plenty state highway manager Brett Gliddon said the crew will be monitoring the effects of the heavy rain and high winds on the temporary diversion route leading up to the Easter holidays. Mr Gliddon says motorists should be prepared for the possible closure of the diversion in the event of severe conditions.
“The heavy rain and wind conditions could scour the temporary road, and if this happens, we may need to close the road to do repairs”.
Mr Gliddon says drivers should continue to use the alternative routes SH35 around the East Cape or SH5 through Taupo if they want to avoid using the temporary road with the bad weather expected.
“Although the temporary road is open at present to traffic, we are recommending to drivers that if they want to have some certainty around their Easter Holiday travel plans, that they continue to use the alternative routes”.
Mr Gliddon says the temporary road is holding up well since it opened last Thursday, with no issues so far.
“Traffic has been flowing steadily through the temporary road and we have had no significant delays since it opened”.
Mr Gliddon says the temporary road will remain open from 8am to 5.30pm daily including over the Easter Holidays.
Meanwhile, work continues on the long term stabilisation work around the slip face, with contractors today creating ramps on the side of the slip base so that excavating machines can get up the slip face to start removing slip material from the middle rocky outcrop area.
“The slip face remains stable, but this is part of our long term plan to ensure we can maintain access through the gorge to its full capacity.”
Mr Gliddon says the work to remove the 30,000 cubic metres of slip material from the middle of the slip face will take approximately three weeks to complete.
While this work is being undertaken the temporary road will remain open, but delays may be possible if traffic needs to be stopped intermittently while the excavation work is being undertaken around the slope.
“We expect to keep the temporary road open while we work to remove that bulk slip material from the middle of the slope, but motorists should expect that there may be some delays if we need to stop traffic to allow construction activity to be undertaken”.
“We continue to thank drivers for their patience while we continue with our work to get the state highway fully reopened”.
The NZTA recommends that motorists visit www.nzta.govt.nz/waioeka-gorge(external link) to check the conditions before planning their journey through this temporary road.