The NZ Transport Agency says abseilers have made promising inroads as they work to remove loose rock at the location of last Thursday’s slip in the SH3 Manawatū Gorge.
Regional Journey Manager Delaney Myers says abseilers have been working to remove a mass of unstable rock that was exposed by Thursday’s slip. A large overhang was brought down by abseilers this morning, and work is continuing to remove more loose or unstable rock.
This follows careful planning and geotechnical assessments, and the removal of vegetation from the slope to enable the abseilers to work freely.
“We’re thrilled that the crews are making such good progress, and we’re hopeful that the road can be safely reopened within the two week timeframe.
“We appreciate that every day the gorge is closed, it creates disruption for thousands of people. We are working as quickly as possible to remove the loose rock to ensure motorists remain protected. We thank the public for their patience while we get this work done swiftly but safely.
“Cleaning up the dirt and rock is a small part of the job – ensuring the rockface is secure was always going to be the challenge. We need to be certain the hillside is stable before we start to let traffic through the site again, and we’re making promising inroads.
“Safety is our number one priority, and while we know the closure is disruptive, the safety of the travelling public – and our onsite contractors – must come first.”
Work on the $4.5m Saddle Road upgrade is currently underway, which means motorists will be passing through worksites with 30km/h speed limits.
“We urge everyone to follow these speed restrictions safely, as with increased traffic we need to be super vigilant about keeping the Saddle Road safe for both motorists and workers.
“It’s also crucial that everyone drives through Ashhurst with the same care that they’d expect others to drive through their own neighbourhood. This is a residential area and the streets are busy with children and their families enjoying the school holidays. Please keep your speeds down and watch out for them.”
Ms Myers says the DoC track will remain open – people can head up to the carpark as per usual from the Ashhurst end, and the Transport Agency has erected signs to let the public know.