West Coast highway links closed for a further night

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The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) says slower than expected progress in clearing heavy snow and moving hundreds of fallen trees across the road on SH7 the Lewis Pass and SH73 Arthurs Pass, has forced them to close these routes for another night.

NZTA Regional State Highways Manager Colin Knaggs says the situation will be reviewed again at 10am tomorrow. The huge volume of snow in these areas and large number of trees across the road always made it a big challenge to get these highways open today, it are two of the hardest areas by yesterday’s storm. Our contractors have thrown all their resources at getting these highways open, but slower than anticipated progress left no alternative but to close these routes overnight.

“One of the biggest headaches for our contractors today has been dealing with the dozens of trees that have come down under the weight of the heavy snow and crashed across the road, making it hard for the contractors to move their equipment around. With so many unstable trees around it’s too dangerous for our contractors to work through the night.”

Colin Knaggs says some of the trees are large and need to be cut before being moved. The remaining areas for fallen trees are an 8km section of highway east of Lewis Pass and on SH73 from Bealey to Arthurs Pass. A team of tree contracting specialists have been on the job for much of today helping our contractors and will be doing the same again tomorrow.

While SH1 between Waipara and Kaikoura is open, continuing sub zero temperatures mean severe icing in the area. We recommend motorist avoid this route tonight and take extreme care if they have to use other state highway in the Christchurch area Mr Knaggs said.

The latest information on state highway conditions can be found at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) or free phone 0800 444449.