SH73 Alpine Pass U-Turn
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency will be changing its planned management of SH73 this winter in response to concerns raised by residents, businesses and local communities.
Porters Pass, SH73, Thursday this week, remained open with de-icing compound doing its work to melt the snow as it fell. PHOTO: Supplied
"We have heard very clearly the concerns of local people and business operators on SH73, the Arthur’s Pass route linking the West Coast and Canterbury,” says Pete Connors, System Manager, Waka Kotahi. “We thank everyone who attended the meeting at Castle Hill Village this week and Selwyn District Mayor Sam Broughton for his facilitation.
“To address the concerns raised, we have reviewed our planned management of SH73 for this winter, and we are making changes.”
Mr Connors says that the “chains essential” category will be reinstated for winter snow/ice conditions on SH73 when required.
“People will continue to be asked to carry and know how to fit vehicle snow chains on SH73, as on other South Island alpine and semi-alpine highways.”
The need for chains will be signalled at Springfield and Otira on each side of the passes when there is ice and/or snow at those altitudes, and other key places on the journey.
The three key places where chains are likely to be needed are the Otira viaduct, Porters Pass and Craigieburn Cutting.
Mr Connors says the priorities for managing the road this winter are to keep people safe and avoid crews needing to tow stranded vehicles out of these locations.
“The road will be open for vehicles with chains in these places. As in previous winters, there will still be times where parts of the route will be closed due to snow and ice or, if road crews are required to assist stranded motorists.”
Selwyn District Mayor Sam Broughton says: “It’s great to see that Waka Kotahi has engaged with the community and listened to people’s concerns, and that we have been able to work together to come to a solution that addresses people’s concerns while keeping the community safe. We’re grateful to Waka Kotahi/NZTA for meeting and listening and to the people of Arthur’s Pass and Castle Hill for their commitment, attending the meeting and making their voices heard.”
Mr Connors reiterated that in winter snow and ice conditions, West Coasters who have medical and other urgent appointments in Christchurch should consider using the Lewis Pass, via Reefton, even though it is a slightly longer journey than the Arthur’s Pass (SH73) route.
“Particularly if they are not confident using chains in freezing conditions or fear a holdup. It is very rare that both passes are closed at the same time and road crews will always do their utmost to keep one pass open, if snow or ice is affecting both routes.”
Emergency vehicles will be assisted through by contractors on both routes if necessary.
Mr Connors says more information on the winter management of SH73 will be provided next week.
Check our web maps and MetService forecasts before you head off and travel well prepared for cold weather.