Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Nelson Tasman Traffic Nightmere

On the 8 September there was a complete traffic jam between Nelson and Richmond due to a sinkhole that appeared on Main Road Stock near Saxton Fields.

An emergency closure of Main Road Stoke was made after a small hole was discovered shortly after 10 am on the cycle path next to the road opposite where Council were already carrying out road works.

Nelson City Council did all they could with the roads that were availabe to avoid the complete gridlock of late afternoon traffic that occurred.

Mr Alec Louverdis, Group Manager Infrastructure Nelson Council, advised “upon investigation, it was discovered this hole was the result of a collapsed culvert over the creek, which posed a serious safety risk to any vehicle or cyclist travelling through the area.”

“The call was made to “close all traffic to Main Road Stoke, except for one northbound lane that was kept open to allow heavy vehicles to access the nearby industrial area, to allow for emergency investigation and repair of the collapsed culvert.” The Council could only have one lane open as they were already working on the other side of the road.

Mr Louverdis also advised that “around 11 am, Waka Kotahi turned on signs at the Richmond Deviation and near the Quarantine Road roundabout to warn travellers of delays.” At 11.45 when Council had ascertained the road would need to be closed for longer. They “began informing the public through social media feeds and Antenno - Council’s emergency notification app, we also contacted radio stations to help spread the news. NewstalkZB, The Hits and The Breeze shared our messaging on air. MoreFM Nelson and the Hits Nelson shared our messaging on Facebook.”

Group Manager Infrastructure said “for those on the road, Variable Message Signs (VMS) were set up at the Annesbrook/Main Road Stoke intersection around midday, with another added at Three Brothers intersection in Richmond around 3 pm.”


“Police assisted with traffic control at the Saxton/Main Road Stoke roundabout from early afternoon, and signs were placed along Saxton Road at the entrances to Saxton Field later in the day.”

“At 3 pm, Waka Kotahi put notifications about the delays on their online journey map.”


“Social media posts and Antenno notifications continued to be updated and sent out throughout the day and evening as more information became available.”

Nelson City Council discussed with Tasman District Council the possibility of opening Saxton Field to ease traffic congestion. However, this was deemed inappropriate due to the access road off Champion Road (between Avery Playing Field and Garin College) not being suitable for large volumes of traffic. The safety of recreational users of the area, including children cycling and walking, was also a factor in the decision.

Nelson City Council understood this situation was an inconvenience to travellers and caused delay, but we used every tool at our disposal to try and get the news out to the public as swiftly as possible to minimise disruption.


One way to ensure people are notified when an unplanned event like this happens is to download the Antenno app. The app sends direct notifications to your phone so that you do not miss out on important news and updates.

Council tweeted, thanking drivers for their patience.  

Traffic flow had been switched to northbound only on Main Road Stoke which made for a complete gridlock for traffic trying to flow through from Nelson onto Richmond. 

Traffic was held up for hours which made late arrival for mothers,  fathers picking up children from school, late dinner for many families and through traffic like truck’s were quite annoyed.

Both lanes of Main Road Stoke are now open, following emergency repair work by Nelson City Council.

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