Arthur’s Pass set to close from Tuesday

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency will go ahead with its plan to close Arthur’s Pass for resurfacing for up to two weeks from tomorrow.

The Arthur’s Pass/Otira Gorge alpine route (State Highway 73) linking Canterbury and the West Coast will be closed each weekday from 10am to 6pm for the essential resurfacing work.

"The forecast at this stage is looking reasonably good for four days of full daytime closures this week from Tuesday," said Mark Pinner, system manager for the transport agency in the central South Island.

The finishing point of the renewal work at the Rockfall Shelter, below the Reid Falls Chute....
The finishing point of the renewal work at the Rockfall Shelter, below the Reid Falls Chute. Photo: NZTA
Pinner said contingency days are built into the planned closure, so the overall timeframe to complete the work by December 15 may still be manageable.

"We know this closure will be unwelcome for many regular road users, businesses along the route and visitors to the West Coast, but this fortnight before the Christmas holidays has the least impact overall, compared to later options, and follows extensive engagement with travel, hospitality and freight operators,” said Pinner.

The alternative route linking Canterbury and the West Coast will be via Lewis Pass/Reefton (SH7), which adds about an hour from Greymouth.

Pinner said on closure days people travelling from the West Coast will need to be at Otira by 10am if they are heading east on SH73 and back at Arthur’s Pass after 6pm to get home. The route will be open the weekend of December 9 and 10.

Photo: NZTA
Photo: NZTA
The rest of the West Coast remains open for business and routes north and south along the Coast Road (SH6) are unaffected by the closure, Pinner said.

He said emergency services would be escorted through SH73 as required. The road will reopen fully each day outside the 10am to 6pm closure.

"Our aim is to ensure that the highway remains safe and fit for purpose for many years to come," said Pinner.

"We want to reduce the potential for more frequent short-term delays in the future due to failures in the road surface. It is now starting to crumble in places.

"This road is constantly under significant stresses from its grade (16%) and the alpine environment with seasonal weather extremes."