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The need to build a construction road to Milford is "urgent" as the area remains cut off from the rest of the world after the recent storm.
An NZ Transport Agency spokeswoman said crews were building an "urgently needed" construction road that could be used to transport supplies which could not be done via helicopter in adverse weather.
With bad weather forecast for the Milford area, they "need to get this road established", the spokeswoman said.
She said "the pressure is on to get that up and running so we have some sort of backup".
At present, all state highways were opened after the flooding, except State Highway 94 — the road to Milford — which can be used only to Cascade Creek.
She said they were working towards getting access up to The Divide, which is close to the point of road that leads either towards Milford or Hollyford, which has "major damage".
In a statement this morning the NZTA said recent sunny weather had allowed "good progress" to be made on building the four-wheel drive, single lane route.
"The Transport Agency’s aim in coming days is to reopen the route as a construction road in the first instance so that urgently needed services, tradespeople, and contractors can get into Milford Sound Piopiotahi.”
A press release yesterday from Emergency Management Southland said, "Essential traffic convoys will occur ASAP, but not expected until at least Friday. Drivers are being reminded to stay alert for localised road damage."
Southland Mayor Gary Tong and Emergency Management Southland controller Angus McKay visited Milford on Saturday to assess the damage and to see what else was needed to help locals and tourism operators.
"We don’t know how long Milford will be cut off and we are working hard to ensure to provide the support and resources Milford people need," Emergency Management Southland controller Bruce Halligan said
It was announced yesterday the state of emergency for Southland, including Fiordland, was extended until Tuesday, February 18.
Mr McKay said it was decided at a joint committee meeting to keep the state of emergency in place for a further seven days. Members of all the local councils and other emergency services partners were at the meeting.
"We are still assessing the impact of the floodwaters in many areas in Southland and we have parts of Fiordland that are closed and need to remain so," Mr McKay said.
Longer term access for tourists
The NZTA said the second stage of work on the Milford Road involved co-operation and collaboration with the tourism operators and Department of Conservation to see how road connections to the Sound can be re-established while also allowing the extensive repairs between the East Gate (near the Hollyford turnoff) and the Chasm to be completed over winter and spring.
“This is likely to involve convoys of vehicles at specific times of the day however, the detail is still to be refined with the tourism operators at this stage."
It hoped to provide more details soon.