Milford Sound back in business after slip

NEIL RATLEY & BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 19/10/2012

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Milford Sound is open for business again.

The road to Milford was reopened yesterday afternoon when a single lane was completed around the slip that had closed the road since Friday.

However, the New Zealand Transport Agency urged drivers to be patient, with delays anticipated as work continued to clear debris from the massive landslide.

Agency area manager Peter Robinson said the single lane allowed slip-clearing work to continue while motorists could travel to Milford Sound.

The news would be welcomed by tourists and tour operators, Mr Robinson said. The Milford Rd will be under traffic control to enable slip clearance work to continue.

Motorists can expect traffic delays of up to 30 minutes and should factor the delays into their travel plans.

Staff at the slip site would take their rest breaks around the peak traffic-flow times to minimise disruptions to road users, he said.

The road would be closed to all traffic between 7am and 10am each day until further notice so workers could operate heavy machinery and continue with blasting.

Delays of up to 30 minutes either side of the slip between 11am and 5pm were possible while work was carried out.

The agency still had to clear the slip before the road could be fully reopened, Mr Robinson said.

Milford Sound Lodge manager Japke Doodeman said despite the inconvenience everybody had been understanding.

At the start of the week, 26 people were at the lodge.

The number had dropped to eight, she said.

"They're just hanging out. It's just like any other road closure."

Some travellers' travel plans had suffered because of the slip but nobody had expressed any great deal of annoyance, she said.

"We've had great cooperation from flight companies in getting people out.

"We're making the best [of it]."

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