Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says State Highway 1 through the Mangamuka Gorge will open with a single lane for light vehicles and camper vans on December 18, a week before Christmas.
The road will remain open for just over three weeks over the holiday period, before work resumes to restore the road to two lanes.
There will be traffic lights controlling vehicles past the main slip on the northern side of the gorge. The road will be open to light vehicles and camper vans. Trucks and buses will have to continue using the detour route SH10.
Waka Kotahi Senior System Manager Wayne Oldfield says the repair team has worked hard in difficult conditions to make the road safe after a big slip fell away under the road, closing the Mangamuka Gorge in July.
“The slip environment has been unstable and a difficult safety challenge. The repair team has worked in stages, drilling temporary piles just to stabilise the road so they could bring in heavier equipment to complete the permanent piles.”
“They’ve put all resources possible on site working double shifts (20 hours/day) to achieve the opening before Christmas and are progressing well”
“Waka Kotahi understands how much opening the road will mean for the local economy and holidaymakers planning a trip to the Far North over Christmas. Local businesses and visitors can now plan ahead with some certainty.”
On 11 January, the road will be closed again to complete the piling and start on stage 2 of the repair, which is to cut into the hillside to realign the road and restore it to two lanes.
The drilling rig and other equipment used on the big slip will move a few hundred metres up the road to fix a second slip where the road has slumped and is reduced to one lane.
“The repair work at both slips takes up the full width of the road so we have to balance opening the road to let traffic through with just getting on and completing the work as quickly as possible. We are asking our contractors if we can keep a lane open part-time as we finalise our building methodology to see what is achievable and practical. Our team is conscious of the impacts and getting this right”
“At this stage we plan to have the road at both slips restored to two lanes by mid 2021, but it could be sooner depending on the weather and work progress. We’re committing all available resources to getting it done.”
“Waka Kotahi acknowledges the impact of the road closure on local communities and businesses and the extra time and cost of travelling on the recommended detour route - SH10 - which adds 20–30 minutes to the journey.”
Traffic on SH10 has increased 13% or an average 600 vehicles a day since SH1 closed.
“Waka Kotahi advises motorists to be aware there is extra traffic and more trucks on SH10. Take care, drive to the road conditions and allow extra time for your journey.”
Over the Christmas holiday period motorists will be able to choose between using SH10 and SH1 through the Mangamuka Gorge on their journeys to the Far North.
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