State Highway 1 to the top of the North Island will reopen today, just five days after heavy rain and a washout tore a 20 metre hole in the road north of Kaitaia.
The NZ Transport Agency says the road will reopen to two lanes of traffic and pedestrians at 3pm. Local kaumatua performed a karakia to bless the road at midday.
“The road rebuild has been an awesome effort by our crews. We’ve had a good run of fine weather since the washout but our crews have had to work in difficult ground conditions 5 metres below road level. They’ve worked as quickly as safely possible to restore the highway for our northern communities,” say the Transport Agency’s Northland System Manager Jacqui Hori-Hoult.
The original plan was to reopen on Thursday, but there was significant progress yesterday as trucks brought in about 2,000 cubic metres of material to cover the drain and fill the hole up to road level.
“The route across the washout area will be unsealed and work is continuing on the culvert either side of the road today. There will be stop/go traffic management and drivers can expect some delays. “
“There will be no work over the long weekend but work on the site will continue after Easter for about two weeks until the road is sealed.”
Friday’s heavy rain also caused flooding and road damage further north of the washout so crews will be moving on to inspect, repair and clean up as required, says Ms Hori-Hoult.
“The Transport Agency thanks the local communities and businesses affected by the road closure. We understand the frustrations and challenges it’s caused and we’ve worked as hard as possible to reopen the road and provide a permanent solution to the drainage challenges in the area,” says Ms Hori-Hoult.
The Transport Agency thanks Summit Forests for allowing public vehicles to use its private track through the forest to bypass the washout. The Transport Agency also thanks the police for managing the morning and evening convoys. More than 150 vehicles joined the convoys for the forty minute journey over three days.
The Transport Agency also thanks local authorities, emergency services and the Ministry of Civil Defence as they worked closely to ensure the welfare of local communities and visitors.
Check the Transport Agency’s website: www.nzta.govt.nz(external link) for the latest highway information or sign up to www.onthemove.govt.nz(external link) for up-to-date information on what is happening on the route you plan to travel; freephone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS for national and regional travel updates.