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South Island highways update, 5:15pm - Contractors working hard to clear slips and debris

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The NZ Transport Agency says contractors have been working urgently since this morning to re-open South Island highways closed by heavy rain and severe wind.

While most state highways have now re-opened, the Transport Agency is urging drivers to take extra care and check the latest conditions with some roads still closed or affected by surface flooding and slips.

The alternative inland state highway 1 route from Christchurch to Picton is open, but travel is restricted to single lane access in places, and some delays should be expected.  

SH6 north of Greymouth has now re-opened, while SH7 from Reefton to Greymouth (Stillwater Underpass) remains closed due to flooding. River levels are dropping and it is expected that SH7 will re-open shortly. In the meantime Taylorville Road has opened and there is an alternative route for traffic to travel between Greymouth and Christchurch via the Lewis Pass.

SH73 remains closed at Arthurs Pass, Otira to Jacksons due to a large slip

“We’re keen to get those roads open for people as soon as we can possibly do it. River levels are dropping very slowly but we are monitoring conditions constantly and will make the call to re-open the roads as soon as we can.”

Mr Connors says the slip blocking SH73 is very large – estimated by contractors at up to 20,000 m3, and is currently water saturated and still moving.

“We’re dealing with a very large slip and while we’ll do everything we can, it’s unlikely to be open tomorrow. Our contractors will continue to work today until dark, with works restarting first thing tomorrow morning from both sides of the slip. We’re working closely with KiwiRail to reinstate both the road and rail access.”

Mr Connors says an update on the status of the SH73 slip will be provided tomorrow afternoon.