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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Drivers need to prepare for short delays at Sylvia Flats SH7, near Hanmer, this Monday and Tuesday, 10 and 11 May.

Stop/go management will be in place to allow for safe tree-felling alongside the highway. 

The work is part of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s major realignment of 700 metres of highway west of the Hanmer Springs turnoff. The realignment is needed to avoid future closures, caused by the highway’s proximity to the Lewis River. (See photo below.) 

The project is within the Lewis Pass National Reserve, so work has been planned in consultation with the Department of Conservation/ Te Papa Atawhai and all necessary consents have been granted, says Colin MacKay, Portfolio Manager Waka Kotahi. 

“Thanks to all road users for slowing down near our crews and building in some extra time for their journey through State Highway 7, the Lewis Pass,” says Mr MacKay.

 “All beech tree removal is being done with guidance from the Department of Conservation and to ensure nesting native birds are not affected. All of the felled trees will be stockpiled, either to be mulched or to be placed over the old road alignment at the completion of the project to re-establish a local habitat and vegetation area”, he says.

“We need to realign this road to ensure it is safely away from the river and ensure this key state highway linking the east and west coasts and Nelson/Marlborough remains resilient and reliable for the future.” 

Work restarted on the project this week under Covid-19 Alert Level 3, having got underway at the end of 2019. 

Strict health and safety protocols are in place across the project, including restricted access to sites, requirements for workers to maintain physical distancing, and the use of additional facilities and protective clothing. 

Road users are encouraged to continue to be alert to changes in the traffic management, follow all the on-site signage and drive to the conditions as winter intensifies. 

State Highway 7 is a key freight and tourist route between the West Coast and Canterbury, Nelson/ Tasman and Canterbury and Picton and Christchurch. In the event of SH1 via Kaikōura being closed, the Lewis Pass is the only road link between Picton and the rest of the South Island. 

The Lewis River eating into State Highway 7 at Sylvia Flats below: 

Sylvia Flats area marked with red spot, between Maruia and Island Hills, SH7, near Boyle River:

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