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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Following extensive safety work by Waka Kotahi contractors, State Highway 6 at Dellows Bluff west of Murchison will reopen by 8 am tomorrow, in time for returning holiday traffic.

The road was closed following a major rockfall early on Wednesday morning. Initial indications are that tree roots and water ingress into the fractured cliff face caused the massive boulders to fall. This has left further fractured rocks overhanging the cliff face at risk of falling onto the road.

Andrew James, Waka Kotahi Systems Manager – Top of the South, says temporary protection will be in place that will allow people to use the road safely.

“Contractors have been building a stone-filled container wall in the northbound lane to protect the existing road shoulder. This means all traffic will be able to move through the section of road while work continues to stabilise the rockface”.

Mr James warns that a permanent fix for the rockfall risk will take some time to complete, meaning only a single lane will be available initially. However, the intention is to get two lanes open as soon as possible.

“Our engineers are still working through what the solution will be, and this will take time to get right. Currently, we can’t give a timeframe for reinstating the road to two lanes, but we do want to achieve this as quickly as possible”.

Mr James says the safety of workers and road users at the rockfall site is a top priority.

“We must do everything thing we can to make the road safe. The huge size of the boulders that came down earlier this week graphically demonstrates the potential risk to road users”.

He is also thanking locals and regular users of the route for their understanding and patience.

“This is an important transport link, and we know its closure has caused frustration and inconvenience. We ask people to bear with us as our contractors make every effort to get this work done”, Mr James says.

Works at the existing underslip,150m west of Dellows Bluff, continues. The goal is to have this project finished by the end of the year.

People using State Highway 6 via Murchison are encouraged to stay up to date with its status. This is available on the Waka Kotahi website and its social media channels.