Milford Rd to close
The Milford Road will be closed for up to 14 days to remove unstable rock above the Homer Tunnel.The NZ Transport Agency will close the road from the eastern entrance of the Homer Tunnel from Thursday to May 23.Part of the rock feature broke free in November last year.NZTA Southland area manager Peter Robinson said: ”We have a limited window of opportunity before the on-set of winter to remove the remaining unstable rock feature using carefully targeted precision blasting but we have to act immediately.”
“Weather permitting, the emergency works can begin this Thursday to remove rock from the area known as Moir’s Mate Diamond Face.
“An on-site inspection last week by our geotechnical experts showed that the remaining section of rock weighing about 2000 tonnes and about 20 metres high is now largely detached from the rock face and likely to fall when it comes under pressure from the winter freeze/thaw conditions.”
New Zealand firm Geovert can be on site from Thursday to begin the work. This company has worked on several high-profile rock stabilisation projects, including the Nevis Bluff and Manawatu Gorge slip.
“There is only a narrow window of settled weather to do this work before winter conditions set in at the site and makes it impossible to complete the work. If we can’t complete the work before winter there is a risk it could have an impact on enabling us to keep the road open throughout winter.”
‘Full road closure is required while drilling and blasting work is carried out. Depending on several factors, especially the weather, the first drilling and blasting closure could be between 10 and14 days.”
NZTA has met with tour operators and businesses to explain the situation.
“While there is never an ideal time to do this sort of work, right now is likely to be the least disruptive with Milford visitor numbers at seasonal lows,” he said.