The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) says a safety audit has cleared the just completed temporary portal extension at the western entrace to the Homer Tunnel, allowing full time operation of State Highway 94 to Milford Sound from tonight.
The road has been closed at night since December due to the rock fall risk in an area high above the western entrance to the Homer Tunnel. Work started just after Christmas on the $1 to $1.5million 60 metre temporary portal extension designed to deflect shattered rock from the rock fall site.
NZTA Southland Area Manager Peter Robinson says its been an outstanding effort by everyone involved to see this project through to a successful conclusion. Fine weather also helped get a job done that improves safety for road users at this rock fall site.
Each of the five sections of the temporary extension were assembled in a car park area several hundred metres downhill from the entrance and then moved into position.
Mr Robinson says a safety audit of the portal extension over the weekend was done to ensure it was safe for road users to use 24 hours a day. Recommendations from that audit have been carried out clearing the way to get the road back on a “Business as usual” footing.
“This news will be welcomed by both local tour operators and road users. We appreciate their patience and while the road was subject to night time closures, especially local tour operators who have been very understanding of the situation.”
Full monitoring of the tunnel during daylight hours will contine for the next few weeks and then be reviewed.
The temporary portal offers an additonal margin of safety for road users while we work on a more permanent fix to the current rock fall risk at the western entrance to the tunnel. Mr Robinson says.
The latest Milford Road rockfall information can be found at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link)