The NZ Transport Agency says it will re-open the washed out section of State Highway 6 near Harihari on the West Coast this evening, some 18 hours ahead of schedule.
“This is fantastic news for the Coast and it’s great to be able to restore a link that is so important to the communities much earlier than we had planned,” says the NZTA’s Senior Asset Manager for the West Coast, Mark Pinner. “Our contractors have worked bloody well to reconstruct the washed out section of the highway, and tests this afternoon to check the safety of the bridge spanning the Wanganui River have been successful.”
The highway has been closed for six days after a 40 metre section was washed away last Wednesday (2 January) when flood waters spilled over from the Wanganui River.
The NZTA’s original target date to re-open the highway was midday Tuesday (8 January)
“Our contractors took advantage of every scrap of daylight from 6am to 9pm to re-build the highway and their hard work has paid off with a great dividend for the Coast. There’s no point in waiting until tomorrow, we’re ready to re-open the highway this evening and that’s what we are going to do,” says Mr Pinner.
Contractors first had to divert the river’s flood waters away from the washout on the northern approach to the bridge before they could start rebuilding the highway. They have been constructing a bank of rocks and gravel 4 metres high the length of the wash out so that the highway is level with the bridge.
“Getting this highway opened as quickly as possible has been the NZTA’s number one priority, and the workers have done a fantastic job in some pretty tough condition over the past week,” Mr Pinner says.
Mr Pinner says the repairs, which have cost around $1m, are temporary and drivers will need to use this section of highway with care. There are no restrictions on the size or weight of vehicles that can use the rebuilt highway.
“We’ve really appreciated the support and patience shown by people on the Coast – this has been a frustrating time for them and this early opening is the best possible way we have of saying ‘thank you’ to them all,” Mr Pinner says.