A washed-out West Coast highway will reopen tonight after
being closed for six days.
State Highway 6 has been closed since January 2 after a 10m
section of the approach to the single lane bridge near
Harihari was washed away in heavy rain.
The gap subsequently increased to 40m.
It severed communications to South Westland and disrupted
travel and freight deliveries.
New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) West Coast area manager
Mark Pinner said the washed-out section would reopen early
this evening, some 18 hours ahead of its scheduled reopening
at noon tomorrow.
"This is fantastic news for the Coast and it's great to be
able to restore a link that's so important to the communities
much earlier than we had planned.
"Our contractors have worked bloody well to reconstruct the
washed out section of the highway, and tests this afternoon
to check the safety of the bridge spanning the Wanganui River
have been successful."
Contractors, many from Greymouth, have been working 15-hour
days to reopen the vital tourist and truck route.
Mr Pinner said the cost of the work was more than $1 million.
The repairs are temporary, and drivers would need to use the
section of highway with care, although there are no size or
weight restrictions on vehicles.
Contractors had to divert the river's floodwaters away from
the washout on the northern approach to the bridge before
they could start rebuilding the highway.
The process of restoring the road involved building up layers
of stone and gravel to get to the level of the bridge. About
100,000 cubic metres of gravel and stone had been used, in
addition to 6000 tonnes of rock, and Mr Pinner estimated more
would be needed.
Work on the abutment was completed yesterday, although Mr
Pinner said it had been a slow process as they needed to be
careful while doing it.
He said the NZTA would look at rebuilding the bridge, while
more rocks would be placed upstream to try to keep the river
within its channel in future.
Mr Pinner said the closure had been frustrating for locals,
and the early opening was the best way to say thanks for
their support and patience.
- APNZ and the Greymouth Star