Tourists locked out until Easter

THE Great Alpine Road will open to mountain workers only from Monday.

And it could be Easter before the fire-ravaged road is reopened to tourists.

Preliminary assessments of the high plains touring route have revealed damage to posts, guard rails and the road surface.

But the biggest threat remains the danger from trees killed by the recent Harrietville fire and others dead since the bushfire that hit the mountains in 2003.

About 20 kilometres of the road from Harrietville to Mount Hotham has been damaged or under threat from unstable trees.

In some steep uphill sections, trees may need to be cleared that are up to 80 metres from the road.

It will be a project that will be a race against the clock to beat the peak winter snow season.

Yesterday, acting regional director for Vic-Roads Bruce Davis said they had hoped to have the road reopened to the public for the Labour Day weekend holiday.

“But that is optimistic, we are more confident of having the road open for Easter,” he said.

“We have crews working seven days a week but we think it will take three to four weeks to fix the guard rails, replace the burnt guide posts and fix the pavement.

“We think clearing the trees will take between 12 and 16 weeks.”

Mr Davis said the road will open to permit holders on Monday but in restricted morning and afternoon windows.

It has been closed for almost five weeks.

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