The road to Milford Sound re-opened at noon today, with confirmation this morning that the blast site of an unstable section of rock above the western entrance to the Homer Tunnel on 14 June show is now stable enough to allow traffic through the tunnel.
This news comes following an on-site inspection and clearing work yesterday, 22 June. Concerns about the risk the 2,000 tonne of unstable rock posed to road users led the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) to close the road on 23 May from the eastern entrance of the Homer Tunnel.
NZTA Southland Area Manager Peter Robinson says the re-opening is great news for the local community and tour operators, who have had a tough few weeks while the road has been closed. We appreciate their support during this difficult period while we got this critical work done.
"The team who were on-site yesterday removed a number of loose rocks, carried out close visual inspections and read rock movement measuring equipment around the blast site. These readings and the inspections showed there hasn’t been any significant damage to surrounding rock from the blast."
Mr Robinson said given these factors, the rock fall risk is now at levels we can manage with the road user safety measures we have in place. These include traffic management and closing the road at night because the site cannot be monitored. The road will open at 8am and close at 5pm each day through winter.
"Close monitoring of the blast site will continue and we are now much better placed to do this with high powered cameras around the blast site to compliment regular aerial inspections. Where there are windows of good weather we’ll return to the site to carry out further inspections and clear remaining debris."
The temporary portal extension at the western entrance to the Homer Tunnel will remain for another six to nine months.
Those planning to travel to Milford Sound from today should be able to enjoy the usual tour activities on offer. However, because of the month long road closure and the need to replenish supplies it may be a couple of days before the entire range of services such as full catering are back on stream. However visitors should check with tour operators to see what services are available.
A kiosk is also operating on the Milford Road just out of Te Anau to provide travellers with information. The latest information on the Milford Road is available at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz or by phoning 0800 444449.
Join Voxy on Google+.