Rock shelter protects truck driver from falling boulders in Arthur's Pass

A truck was trapped inside the rock shelter in the Otira Gorge on State Highway 73 as a rockfall...
A truck was trapped inside the rock shelter in the Otira Gorge on State Highway 73 as a rockfall comes down. Photo: Supplied
A truck driver was forced to seek refuge under a purpose-built concrete rock shelter in the middle of Arthur's Pass on State Highway 73 after a massive rockfall came down across the road.

The large shingle slip happened mid-afternoon on Monday in the Otira Gorge on the West Coast side of Arthur's Pass.

The truck and trailer was travelling down a steep section of the alpine route when it was forced to come to a stop under the rock shelter, as 1m boulders tumbled down, crashing onto the road and blocking traffic.

The driver was able to get out of the truck and was picked up by road crews and taken to Arthur's Pass.

A rockfall on State Highway 73 near Arthurs Pass. Photo: Supplied
A rockfall on State Highway 73 near Arthurs Pass. Photo: Supplied
The truck has been left under the shelter and stayed there overnight until the road was cleared.

The man-made rock shelter was built in the 1990s to protect SH73 from rockfall and slips that regularly occur on the winding road between the top of Arthur's Pass and Otira.

Almost 200mm of rain has fallen in the pass over the last two days and that loosened shingle and scree in the area.

Material has continued to fall from the cliffs above the gorge down on top of the rock shelter, sliding off the roof onto the road.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency maintenance contract manager Moira Whinham said: "With rain continuing to fall across the main divide, it (was) not safe to reopen the highway (;ast) night."

"Electronic message signs will be in place at each end of the road – near Kumara Junction and at Springfield warning people of this closure and roadblocks are in place at Arthur's Pass and Otira, said Whinham."

People wanting to get through the pass should take Lewis Pass, SH7, via Reefton and Waipara today and tomorrow morning, says NZTA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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