Following a snap closure of the Tasman Highway at Paradise Gorge in late May due to the risk of major rockfall, it’s due to reopen in coming days.
The Department of State Growth announced it would close the road, west of Orford, until mid-July 2021, in the interests of public safety. However Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael Ferguson, announced yesterday that it will open early.
The Tasman Highway at Paradise Gorge will reopen to all traffic from 7am on Thursday July 8, with a reduced speed limit and under traffic management.
“Work on clearing the road progressed extremely well over the weekend, with all the rocks, debris and gravel now removed allowing us to reopen the Highway well ahead of the expected reopening date of mid-July,” said Ferguson in a statement.
“A speed limit of 40km/h will be in place along a 300m length of the Highway and motorists will be asked to use one lane, while the remaining work is undertaken under traffic management
“Investigations have shown that most of the damage to the road is limited to the road surface without affecting the road base, meaning the road repairs required are not extensive.
“The remaining work is expected to take approximately six weeks, meaning traffic management arrangements will stay in place during that time.
“Work will continue tomorrow and Wednesday on clearing the site, doing minor road repairs, removing some vegetation, planting appropriate small vegetation on the lower slope and preparing for installation of mesh on the rockface.
“While the road is open under traffic management, the mesh fence will be installed on the rockface, and the stone retaining wall will be repaired, and finally, the road will be resurfaced.”
The road was closed in late May after the Department of State Growth received advice that a detailed survey of the area identified a need to investigate the removal of rock to manage the risk of a fall. There was also a risk that severe weather, including heavy rainfall or frost, could result in a rock fall.
Orford is a scenic village on the east coast of Tasmania, 73km north-east of Hobart and is located on the mouth of the Prosser River.
A stretch of the road runs alongside a sheer cliff face of rock and the closure meant residents including truck drivers would need to detour via the Midland Highway to reach Hobart, adding an extra 175km, or up to three hours, to their trip.
The other option is via Wielangta Road — a much shorter but gravel route that the State Growth Department said was “not suitable for large volumes of traffic” or heavy vehicles.
Whilst the road is closed, State Growth has been doing additional maintenance works on other parts of the Tasman Highway including trimming vegetation, clearing drains, upgrading road edges and repairing gabion walls.
“I thank the community for their understanding during this road closure and for their continued understanding of the delays while the road is open under traffic management, along with everyone that has worked around the clock to get the road reopened and for those working on Wielangta Road and Lake Leake Road to ensure they remained safe alternatives,” added Ferguson.
“Road users are reminded to drive to the conditions on Wielangta Road and Lake Leake Road and comply with the speed limits for everyone’s safety. We will continue to monitor and maintain these roads while we work on the Tasman Highway at Paradise Gorge. If you encounter potential hazards on these roads, please report them to the State Roads 24/7 hotline on 1300 139 933.”