The NZ Transport Agency says it plans to start re-building the section of State Highway 6 washed away by flood waters near Harihari on the West Coast later today (Saturday, 5 January) or tomorrow at the latest.
“We’re making good progress with our two-pronged attack to divert the Wanganui River back to its original course, and remain on track to have the highway reopened next Tuesday if the weather stays good,” says the NZTA’s Senior Asset Manager for the West Coast, Mark Pinner.
Flood waters that spilled over from the river last Wednesday (2 January) swept away a 40 metre-long section of SH6 at the northern approach to the bridge.
“Working conditions aren’t great – river levels are still a bit high and the water’s pretty dirty – but our contractors say things are going well to get the water away from the washout and flowing under the centre of the bridge again. Heavy machinery is cutting a channel to divert flood waters, and further upstream we’re using heavy boulders along the bank to push the river back.
“We’re confident that we can start re-building the highway later today – that will be a real bonus for the Coast community – but certainly that work will be underway tomorrow,” Mr Pinner says.
Mr Pinner says engineers also hope to make a detailed inspection of the bridge later today, but he says the NZTA is confident that the piles driven deeply into the riverbed have withstood pressure from the flood waters.
“We aiming to have the highway re-opened by midday next Tuesday – that’s our priority for all those people and Coast communities affected by storm.The good news is, we’re on target,” Mr Pinner says.
Note: The NZTA plans to issue updates around midday daily to keep people informed of progress to re-open SH6.