No way through State Highway 2 roadblocks
STATE Highway 2 remains closed by snow and some Upper Hutt residents are stuck at home after abandoning their cars by the road on Sunday.
Fulton Hogan contractors remain stationed at a road block, pictured above, at Te Marua, allowing residents through to Kaitoke on a case by case basis.
However, further up the road at the bottom of Rimutaka Hill there is no access.
After heavy snowfall in Upper Hutt on Sunday evening, Fulton Hogan staff focused their efforts on River Road and the stretch of State Highway 2 north of Upper Hutt to Kaitoke today.
A fleet of graders, sweepers, trucks laden with grit, and emergency vehicles were on a near constant rotation along the arterial roads in an attempt to keep them clear for local residents and emergency vehicles.
A Fulton Hogan employee at the closure barrier says that as conditions improved in morning, contractors moved back up the Rimutaka Hill and began work on clearing the near 15km long stretch of road.
However, he says that progress will depend on weather conditions.
“If conditions get worse again we will probably bring the crew back down here and focus on keeping lower lying roads clear,” he said just hours before a late afternoon front swept across the region.
A number of motorists were stranded on Sunday evening when a sudden blizzard struck, making road conditions treacherous.
Emergency services and contractors were able to rescue motorists stranded on the Rimutaka Hill.
However, on either side of the hill in Featherston and Te Marua, the sides of the roads were lined with abandoned vehicles.
The steep climb up Plateau Road in Te Marua proved too slippery for most vehicles, and all four of the access routes to the Mangaroa Valley at Maymorn, Maoribank, Wallaceville, and Whitemans Valley were impassable.
Many Mangaroa and Plateau Road residents were forced to leave their cars on the State Highway at Te Marua last night and walk home.
Nicole Jones, of Mangaroa, says many people walked home from Upper Hutt.
“A woman who lives down the road from us had walked over the Mangaroa Hill from Upper Hutt in her work suit,” says Nicole.
“All the roads were closed and we have had no power until this afternoon, so it’s been freezing,” she says.
Fellow resident Adrian Marfell-Jones says she will be bunkering down again tonight after being stuck at home for two days.
“With more snow expected we think we will be staying put for now,” she says.
NZTA’s website stated the Rimutaka Hill Road was expected to remain closed overnight.
The site is advising motorists to stay off the road unless travel is absolutely necessary.