Michael Ferguson,Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
Today, we’ve made significant progress in bringing down a number of large rocks overhanging the Tasman Highway at Paradise Gorge. We’re taking action to deal with the safety risk at an incredible pace.
Industrial airbags were inserted behind the rocks, slowly pushing them from the rock face and causing them to fall safely to the gravel cushion that was put in place to protect the road and convict wall. The process has gone according to plan which is testament to the professionalism and skills of those working on this complex project.
Once all of the rocks and gravel have been removed we will be able to assess the state of the road and get a better idea of when it will be able to reopen.
The first rock to be removed today had previously been identified as a potential risk. It had been anchored by cables and regularly inspected. It was a recent inspection that found flaws in the section of rocks supporting this anchored rock that posed an increased risk of rockfall, prompting the decision to act. This section contains several other rocks.
To ensure the East Coast has two access options during the highway closure we undertook immediate maintenance and improvement works on both Lake Leake Road and Wielangta Road and we have increased the frequency of road inspections on these detours to ensure any problems are identified early and repaired urgently.
Wielangta Road has been improved and is currently in good condition. I remind drivers that it is unsealed and they must drive to the conditions, obey the speed limits, and that during periods of higher use or bad/wet weather, sections of the road may deteriorate and require repairs.
Wielangta Road will be graded on Friday 4 and Saturday 5 June 2021. The grading will involve machinery moving along the road with “stop-slow” traffic controls where work is taking place. Delays of up to 10 minutes can be expected.
Anyone using the road is urged to be alert to the presence of the machinery and obey traffic controllers and signs.
I also welcome RACT’s decision to include Wielangta Road in the Roadside Assist service area in order to provide motorists will more certainty and confidence to use the road if they wish. The East Coast communities remain accessible to the South with this upgraded road, but we ask people to drive to the conditions.
I thank everyone for their patience and understanding as this important safety work is being undertaken.