Milford slip hurts tourism operators
Sun, 14 Oct 2012 6:04p.m.
By Rachel Tiffen
Contractors are working around the clock to clear a major landslide on Milford Rd in Southland.
The Milford Sound will be cut off for at least three days because of the slip, and it is heavy, painstaking work.
Milford Sound weathered the storm yesterday, scarred by an avalanche of boulders – some car-sized – and debris that wiped out a hillside and blocked the road.
“The road that's been taken out by landslide at Milford is about 200m of road that's covered completely with rocks,” says Peter Robinson of the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).
Tipping the scales at up to 200 tonnes each, moving the rocks is no small task.
“These rocks that have slipped down onto the road have fallen 500m and 900m and haven't smashed,” says Mr Robinson. “This means they will be more difficult to break apart.”
Yesterday geotechnical experts assessed the area dubbed “red slip” after a landslide about 25 years ago.
Today it was time to bring in the heavies – mechanical breakers and explosives.
“Explosives that we're using are not blasting type but expansive type. We drill a hole, fill a hole, then it expands and cracks the rock.”
Contractors are there for the long-haul. One lane will be opened to traffic by Wednesday at the earliest.
“This operation is now going to be 24 hours. There'll be workers working there under lights and the conditions are fine, but they give up a lot to ensure that road's open as quickly as possible.”
Tourist operators will feel it too. They're used to slips after 10 two-day road closures this winter, but say this one will make a real dent.
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