• Patrick McBride

Councillors updated on Icy decision

SH73, the Arthur’s Pass route linking Canterbury and the West Coast, was one of a number of routes closed over the weekend due to snow and ice.

Last week NZTA announced it had updated its winter management of the area which included scrapping traditional 'no towing/chains essential' message Coasters had used for years and replacing it with a simple open/closed system.

The new decision has created debate over the internet with petitions to government for an urgent review. "There are of course times the roads will need to close but this new policy is health and safety, risk aversion gone mad,"Ross Thomas said. He added ski fields, customers and supply chains would be affected.

Tonight Waka Kotahi NZTA meet Grey District Councillors and staff to talk over their decisions. Transport Agency Network Manager Colin Hey said all the same plant would remain and crews would continue to patrol and update the situations.

"When it snows, we want a clear run to grit the pass, clear it and open up the road again," he said. Noting this could work better than the traditional method.

"We won't hold up people unnecessary, if it's ready to open, we will open it".

GDC Transport portfolio holder, Cr Haddock pushed for good communication. "The secret of success will be communication, getting the word out and relaying it to the public".

The agency said they have good practices in place and updates would usually be out to all networks within 15 minutes. The new system would allow contractors to get in and clear roads without interruptions such as tending to and manoeuvre around vehicles.

Waka Kotahi will review the traffic management of SH73 at the end of the winter season, taking into account feedback from road users and residents.