Boulders blasted to unblock Milford Rd
Massive rocks that tumbled on to and blocked the road to Milford Sound on Friday are being blown up with high-powered explosives.
New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) contractors today drilled holes into the boulders, some which weigh up to 200 tonnes, and then dropped explosives into the drill holes in order to break the rocks into pieces small enough to be removed.
"We're dealing with solid granite boulders, some weighing around 200 tonnes, so we can't just load them onto a truck or a digger," NZTA Southern Area Manager Peter Robinson said.
"The quickest way to do the job is blast these giants into smaller pieces, and that's what we're doing at the moment."
The rocks were brought down in a landslide which stretches 200 metres along Milford Rd, the only road access into Milford Sound.
NZTA hopes to reopen the road in a couple of days and Robinson said the fastest way to do so was to blow the rocks into pieces.
NZTA was hoping to have one lane reopened by Wednesday.
The length of the closure and the timing for a full re-opening to two lanes would depend on how quickly contractors were able to break the large rocks apart and remove them, Robinson said.
"The weather is not going to be as settled as we had hoped, and we can only blast safely in daylight hours. This means getting rocks drilled and blasted as quickly as possible. Rain is expected late today and there is a possibility of snow on Wednesday," he said.
"Blasting cannot be done in the rain, but the removal of material can. The safety of the people working underneath the slip is paramount and if the rain becomes too heavy operations will have to be pulled back. We're still hopeful for opening to a single lane by Wednesday, but Mother nature will have the final say.”
- © Fairfax NZ News
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