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Road cleared as crews race to re-open highway

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Engineers racing to re-open the Kings Highway at Clyde Mountain by the weekend have removed 1400 tonnes of rock and debris and installed a temporary concrete barrier, but the state Member for Monaro has warned the busy South Coast link may not open until Monday.

The main road, which connects Canberra, Queanbeyan, Braidwood and other surrounding inland towns with Batemans Bay, was closed last Friday after a huge landslide, causing travel chaos for families during the ACT school holidays and a slump in tourism dollars.

The Canberra Times visited the site of the landslide yesterday, near Pooh Bear corner, west of Nelligen, and found the road had been cleared by NSW Roads and Maritime Services engineers, who were working on a new protective metal fence attached to the concrete barrier.

A NSW Traffic Management Centre spokeswoman said yesterday the road was ''expected to be open by the end of the week''.

Member for Monaro John Barilaro said the priority was to get the road open.


''The pressure is on to have it open and at this stage it looks like Monday, and that's subject to everything going to plan, including the weather,'' Mr Barilaro said.

Once the section was re-opened, Mr Barilaro said the NSW roads agency would conduct a thorough geotechnical investigation and ''a full assessment of the whole area''.

''It's timely that we have further technical and geotech-type investigations into exactly what's happening, especially coming off 10 years of drought and now with the additional rain,'' he said.

The closure of the busy road has hurt inland and coastal businesses that rely on tourist dollars.

In Braidwood, which depends on passing trade to and from the coast, the tourist office said the town was ''very empty'' last weekend.

Braidwood Tourism and Information Centre volunteer Bente Jensen said, ''I've never seen it this empty and people even commented on it.''

On the other side of the Clyde, the Steampacket Hotel in Nelligen has been cut off by the landslide to the west, but is also affected by the diversions at the Batemans Bay roundabout to the east.

Owner Sam Sergi said patron numbers for Anzac Day yesterday were down 70 per cent.

The pub gets most of its supplies from Canberra, including alcohol and food. The detour meant staff were forced to drive more than five hours to restock.

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