After clearing three Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of slip material and installing 48 reinforcing bars, Waka Kotahi is ready to reopen the main route from Auckland to Northland to two-way traffic for the first time since Cyclone Gabrielle hit.
Major slips have impacted the highway from storms including the Auckland Anniversary Weekend storm, Cyclone Gabrielle and later flooding.
Only northbound traffic can use the route now, with southbound light traffic diverted through Mangawhai and Waipū, and heavy traffic having to make a 130km detour through Dargaville.
The closure has had a major impact on Northland tourist attractions, with some visitors choosing to stay away.
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But Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says the highway will temporarily open in both directions this Friday at midday.
Traffic management and a temporary reduced speed limit will be in place.
But the opening will only be temporary to help provide smoother journeys over the Easter break, when there is an increase in cars travelling to and from Northland.
The road will then need to close in both directions from April 17 for two weeks to complete major earth works before permanently opening in May.
Jacqui Hori-Hoult, regional manager maintenance and operations, said teams have been working extremely hard in tricky conditions to reopen the road before the holidays.
“We know, however, that we still have a lot of work to do to provide access as usual to Northland road-users.
“To date, we have cleared approximately three Olympic-sized swimming pools of material from the Brynderwyn Hills but there is still the equivalent of another 20 to go.
“There are up to seven teams working through the site at any given time, clearing multiple over-slips and cutting tracks to access the top of the major slip.
“At the major underslip, they have installed 48 reinforcing bars and concreted, so that the road can open this Friday,” Hori-Hoult said.
Teams will also be installing anchors in a retaining wall and configuring barriers ready for Friday.
While the road is open, Waka Kotahi will be looking to the skies in the hopes the weather stays favourable. They may have to close the road at short notice if conditions become unsafe.