State Highway 60, the Takaka Hill road, held up well to convoyed traffic on Sunday, says the NZ Transport Agency. The road was hard hit by Ex-Cyclone Gita a week ago with a number of sizeable slips and damage to the highway.
The highway was open on Sunday for the first time in several days.
This week it will be open mornings and nights only, 7-8 am and 5-6 pm. People are encouraged to arrive at the top of the hour to avoid missing out.
People just wanting to check out the state of the road will not be allowed over but most people with business reasons or booked holidays on either side of the hill will be allowed.
“Restrictions on light vehicles towing caravans, boats and trailers can now be lifted in time for the 5pm opening of the road tonight,” says Frank Porter, System Manager for the Transport Agency. “Staff on site will hold these vehicles until the last run of each day in each direction. This way, if a vehicle strikes problems, we will not be holding up everyone else who needs to travel the route.
“We will continue to allow boats and caravans through at the end of each day, this week, the 5 pm time only. Otherwise the restrictions remain in place for rigid trucks only, with no trailers or over-dimension vehicles allowed on Takaka Hill currently.”
This morning around 150 vehicles travelled over the Takaka Hill, about equal numbers travelling in each direction. Around 70% were freight vehicles and 30% cars, campervans and private vehicles.
“Weather is a key factor in crews being able to work and provide access over the hill,” says Mr Porter. “If conditions deteriorate the road will have to be closed. Given this week’s weather forecast we recommend people check NZTA South Island Facebook(external link) and Top of the South Twitter(external link) updates, before they travel.
People on Takaka Hill wanting to travel towards Riwaka, have been asked to meet 300m east of where SH60 intersects with Canaan Road. Road users are encouraged to arrive early.
“Some key freight trips, like milk tanker deliveries, which cross the hill at 7 am and normally come back at midday, will be allowed over the hill at pre-arranged times under a permit system. This freight-only system is being arranged through Tasman Journeys,” says Mr Porter. “But for most people the two open slots each day, 7-8 am and 5-6 pm, are the ones that are available and this require no registration or permit.”
If people see freight on the highway outside of the morning and evening slots, it will be through this permit system and is restricted to these essential services, Mr Porter says.