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SH36/Pyes Pa road to remain closed up to five weeks

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State highway 36/Pyes Pa Road between Tauranga and Rotorua will remain closed for up to five weeks following a major rock fall in the Mangorewa/Kaharoa Gorge last Thursday (6 August).

State highway 36/Pyes Pa Road between Tauranga and Rotorua will remain closed for up to five weeks following a major rock fall in the Mangorewa/Kaharoa Gorge last Thursday (6 August).

Work to clear debris from the rock fall is continuing this week, after contractors spent the weekend breaking up large boulders and clearing the base of the slip. Contractors are currently removing overhangs and loose material from the new face exposed by the rock fall, as well as removing debris from the road.

NZTA State Highways Manager for Waikato and Bay of Plenty Kaye Clark said last week’s rock fall had exposed an entirely new rock face, which must now be assessed before work begins to mitigate the risks from further rock falls, including the installation of netting and other measures.

“Geotechnical specialists are examining the new rock face in order to determine exactly what measures will be taken to make the environment as safe as possible, both for road workers and for motorists when the road re-opens. This will include clearing all overhangs and loose material, scaling the rock face, drilling anchor points and installing netting.

“This work is over and above the ongoing safety work to increase the width of the road which has been underway since June 12. When the road re-opens next month it will for restricted hours while the road widening work continues.”

The highway has been closed to traffic between 9am – 4pm every weekday since June 12 while the planned road-widening work has been carried out.

Mrs Clark thanked motorists for their patience while work continues to clear the rockfall and stabilise the new rock face.

“We’re committed to re-opening the road as soon as we can, but the safety of road users is our top priority and we need to be sure that the situation is as safe as possible before doing so. We also need to look after the safety of our contractors as they carry out this highly specialised work.”   

Mrs Clark said an in-depth investigation into the cause of last week’s rock fall was continuing, including a detailed geological examination of the site, was likely to take several weeks to complete.

Regular updates on progress towards re-opening the highway will be posted on the Rotorua District website, at www.rdc.govt.nz(external link).

Alternative access between Tauranga and Rotorua is via state highway 33 while the road remains closed.

For more information please contact:

Andy Knackstedt
NZTA Media Manager
T   64 4 894 6285 
M  0212 763 222  
andrew.knackstedt@nzta.govt.nz

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