Rockfalls slow slip repairs

JOHN EDENS
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2014

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Massive rockfalls and rough weather have hampered efforts to reopen two lanes on State Highway 6 between Makarora and Haast.

The road, a major tourist route, has been reduced to single-lane traffic and overnight closures for more than six months since a huge slip in September.

New Zealand Transport Agency senior network manager Mark Pinner said heavy rainfall and strong winds forced complete road closures twice in the past month.

"The weather has brought rocks weighing up to three tonnes and other material on to the road, causing irreparable damage to some of the anchor post bases drilled into the slip face to support the rockfall fences that are being installed.

"Unfortunately some of this work has had to be re-done as it was damaged before we could begin to install the first of the fences. It's now unlikely we will be able to begin to install the first fence until next month."

Fence materials were sourced from Switzerland and Australia and Pinner estimated that contractors lost 18 days of work because of the damage and stoppages when it was unsafe.

Drilling work to repair damaged anchors had started but the work was unlikely to be finished until September

The agency's goal was reopening the state highway to two-lane traffic by the start of the busy summer tourist season. So far, managing the slip and the repair programme has cost more than $3 million.

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