IT'S the news mountain motorists have been waiting for.
The crucial Oxley Highway link between Port Macquarie and Walcha is back open to traffic after months of flood repair work.
The section of highway between Mount Seaview Road and Gingers Creek Roadhouse (Stockyard Creek rest area) has been closed since the severe weather event in March.
Up to 30 workers have been on site daily in the effort to reopen the road with five sections of the highway still operating as single lane with alternating flow and controlled by traffic lights.
"Opening the missing link in this vital transport route is a major milestone - and crews will now be focusing on getting the highway back to its pre-flood condition," Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey said.
"Locals, farmers, freight and tourism have all been affected by the devastating landslips which closed the Oxley Highway to traffic after more than 70 landslips earlier this year, including 10 locations which suffered serious damage."
Heavy machinery was brought in to haul tonnes of material away, including rocks and fallen trees.
NSW Transport has stabilised the slips, including 'soil nailing' which involves pinning the soil and vegetation back to rock. These long steel 'nails' together with steel mesh and a concrete facing are very effective at stabilising steep unstable slopes.
"As the larger slopes will require detailed investigation and design, we expect that they will take a longer time to restore to provide improved resilience for future events. I will continue to keep the community updated as we progress work," Mrs Pavey said.
Transport for NSW regional director Anna Zycki said the Oxley Highway was built decades ago and not to the standards a road would be completed if built today.
"This large storm event has certainly been one of the biggest we've ever seen in the northern region of New South Wales."
What is being done?
Transport for NSW reopened the 12 kilometre section of highway between Yarras and Mount Seaview in May and have worked around the clock to reopen the section from Mount Seaview Road to Gingers Creek.
This work includes stabilising the ground under the road at the two largest slip sites. This will be done using a technique called 'soil nailing'.
This technique involves pinning the soil and vegetation onto rock with long steel nails, steel mesh and a concrete facing.
The work currently being carried out is to prevent further deterioration of the road and to provide enough strength to allow traffic through. However, there are several sections where part of the road formation has been lost, and restoration of the road to the original width will require further investigation and design.
This full restoration work to reopen the road to pre-flood conditions will take about two years to complete.
Concurrently with the temporary repair work, Transport for NSW carrying out investigations and engineering trials to determine the best way to stabilise the sections that have slipped.
More investigation work will need to be carried out with extensive drilling and soil nailing operations to determine the repair design to allow the road to reopen to two way traffic.
As the larger slopes will require detailed investigation and design, we expect they will take a longer time to restore to provide improved resilience for future events.
To repair the road to pre-flood condition by May 2023, the road will need to be closed at various times to carry out the works.
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