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NZTA working hard to get West Coast highway links open


The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) says it is throwing all the resources it can at getting SH7 the Lewis Pass and SH73 Arthurs Pass open today, but its contractors face an uphill battle to make this happen.

NZTA Regional State Highways Manager Colin Knaggs says the situation is being reviewed again around 5.00pm. We are doubtful of getting the Springfield to Arthurs Pass of SH73 open this afternoon.  Re-opening SH7 from Hanmer to Springs Junction Highway poses the biggest challenge, as it was one of the hardest hit areas by yesterday’s snow storm and is unlikely to be opened today.

“Snow that is over a metre deep in many places and cannot be cleared by snow ploughs. Front end loaders are the only way of effectively shifting it but it is slower that using snow ploughs and graders.”

Colin Knaggs says another major complication is the large number of trees that have come down under the weight of heavy snow and fallen across the roads in these areas. This is making clearing work a pain-staking job at times, as the trees have to be removed, while in some places there are power lines down as well.”

While SH1 between Waipara and Kaikoura is open, continuing sub zero temperatures in the area are not helping the severe ice conditions in the area. Motorists are urged to take extreme care and we recommend they avoid this route tonight if they can Mr Knaggs said.

State highways in and around Christchurch are open, but ice issues mean drivers need to take care and keep their speeds down and increase their following distances.The latest information on state highway conditions can be found at link) or free phone 0800 444449.