NZ Transport Agency crews made good progress over the weekend clearing the significant slip which last week blocked State Highway 73 on the Lower Otira Gorge. Around 9,000 cubic metres of material was removed on Sunday.
Transport Agency Journey Manager Lee Wright says the revised estimate for the size of the slip, between Aickens and Jacksons at Deception Point, is between 40,000 and 50,000 cubic metres.
From 8 am Tuesday (tomorrow) morning, the highway will reopen to one lane with ten minute openings on the hour (eg 8 am, 9 am, 10 am etc), daylight hours only, 8 am to 7 pm. “This will continue for several days so crews can remove the remaining slip material and make the highway safe for two lanes of traffic again,” says Ms Wright. “People need to factor in extra time for this journey until we have both lanes safely reopened.”
As the power lines were affected by the slip, the railway crossing warning lights on the West Coast side of SH73 to Greymouth won't be operational. KiwiRail will be manually controlling these crossings. “Slow down and be prepared to stop at all level crossings,” says Ms Wright.
While there is no detour for this key route between Canterbury and the West Coast, Ms Wright says drivers can take the other highway through the Lewis Pass via State Highway 7 if they want to avoid delays at the slip site.
For information on the latest driving conditions, go to the Traffic and Travel map(external link) on the Transport Agency’s web page, or phone 0800 4HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49)