Kaimai detour for rock works
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.