Kaimai de­tour for rock works

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

The New Zealand Trans­port Agency says State High­way 29 at Ruahihi Bluffs on the Kaimai Ranges will be closed this week­end so that rocks can be re­moved to min­imise the risk of fur­ther rock falls onto the high­way.

SH29 was closed on Sun­day morn­ing af­ter heavy rain the night be­fore caused rocks to fall onto the road.

The NZTA re-opened the road to a sin­gle lane la­t­erin the af­ter­noon, which still re­mains in place.

Bay of Plenty state high­way man­ager Brett Glid­don said an as­sess­ment of the bluff ear­lier this week con­firmed there were un­sta­ble rocks high up the bluff.

“The large rocks and trees that were re­moved in June were suc­cess­ful in elim­i­nat­ing an im­me­di­ate risk of those fall­ing onto the state high­way,’’ he said.

‘‘The heavy rain over the last eight weeks, in­clud­ing the heavy rain on Satur­day night, has un­der­mined the sta­bil­ity of the bluff and has caused other sec­tions of rock to be weak­ened, which now need to be re­moved.”

An earth bund had been put in place to pro­tect road users and pre­vent fur­ther rock falls from en­croach­ing on the high­way.

The Ruahihi Bluffs are 17km west of Tau­ranga, near the Ruahihi Power Sta­tion.

Mr Glid­don said clos­ing the State High­way 29, a high-use high­way, was not ideal, but es­sen­tial to en­sure the re­moval of rocks was done safely.

“We will be clos­ing the road so that the blast­ing ac­tiv­ity can be un­der­taken safely.

‘‘We apol­o­gise to driv­ers for the in­con­ve­nience, and we also ask peo­ple to avoid the area if pos­si­ble.

A de­tour via Pori­pori Rd will be in place, but it was not ideal for large vol­umes of traf­fic.

Driv­ers were asked to use al­ter­nate state high­ways where pos­si­ble such as SH2 if trav­el­ling be­tween Tau- ranga and Auck­land, and SH36 and SH5 if trav­el­ling from Tau­ranga to the South Waikato and other west­bound des­ti­na­tions.

The de­tour via Pori­pori Rd is expected to add 30 min­utes to jour­ney times. Con­trac­tors worked tire­lessly on Sun­day to re-open the road as quickly as pos­si­ble.

Work­ers will continue to man­age traf­fic through a stop/go op­er­a­tion un­til the week­end clo­sure com­mences.

The clo­sure of SH29 at Ruahihi will start at ap­prox­i­mately 7am on Satur­day, Au­gust 18, and the road will re­main closed un­til 6pm on Sun­day, Au­gust 19.

The road was expected to be re­opened im­me­di­ately there­after.

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