SH 29 to close this weekend

By Staff reporter


Motorists planning a trip over the Kaimai ranges this weekend need to give thought to the route they take.

State Highway 29 at Ruahihi Bluffs, west of Tauranga, will be closed for most of this weekend while blasting takes place at the rockface.

The road will be closed from 7am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday. This section of the road will reopen on Saturday night with the works expected to be completed by 6pm Sunday night.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) said the road closure would enable workers to remove a large free standing column of loose rock from above the state highway.

NZTA Bay of Plenty state highways manager, Brett Gliddon, said the loose rock needed to be removed immediately and blasting was the best way to remove it.

``We really appreciate that drivers, local residents and businesses feel the impact of such closures, and we aim to minimise the effect as much as possible, but the nature of our landscape in the Bay of Plenty does leave our roads vulnerable to such natural events and our main priority is to ensure that our state highway is always at a safe standard for driving.''

A detour via Poripori Road will be available when the section of SH29 at Ruahihi (on the Tauranga side of the Kaimais) is closed. The detour route will add an additional 30 minutes to journey time.

Drivers are advised to allow for the additional travel time or where possible use alternate state highway routes - such as SH2 if travelling between Tauranga and Auckland or SH36 and SH5 if heading west towards the South Waikato and Taupo area.

Rugby supporters travelling from Taranaki to the Steamers and Taranaki game this Saturday are advised to allow sufficient time for their journey.

``Fans need to plan their journeys in advance to allow for the additional travel time if heading to Tauranga, we do not anticipate large numbers of travellers and we have certainly allowed for the expected volumes using either the detour route or the alternate roads. This section of the highway will reopen from 6.00pm on Saturday,'' Mr Gliddon

said.

The state highway will remain open to one lane until this weekend's work begins.

It is expected the state highway will be fully reopened on Sunday night when the blasting work to remove the loose large rock is completed.

For up-to-the-minute road conditions, phone the NZTA's freephone 08004 HIGHWAYS or 0800 44 44 49, or check the website www.highwayinfo.govt.nz

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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