Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency will commence on-the-ground investigations into the slip that caused significant damage to State Highway 4 south of Raetihi early last month.
The site remained active and continued to move in the weeks following the slip and geotechnical engineers had been assessing it remotely using drones. They have now confirmed that the site has stablished and is safe enough for ground crews to enter.
Regional Transport Systems Manager Mark Owen says work will now begin on assessing short-term options for reinstating the road.
“We know how important this road is to locals, road users and businesses. It’s clear from feedback we’ve received that even temporary, restricted access along this route is vital.
“Finding a safe solution for reinstating the road as soon as possible is a top priority. Until our ground crews have fully assessed the site we won’t know exactly what this will look like or how long it will take, but we expect to be able to announce a temporary option soon.
“Public safety is paramount, so any temporary option will require careful and constant observation. If the road is deemed unsafe for vehicles at any time, it will be closed immediately and possibly at short notice.
“Due to the scale and complexity of the slip, a long-term solution will take more time. We will be approaching this project as an opportunity to strengthen the highway’s resilience so that this critical route can better withstand the challenges of the unique topography and severe weather events.
“In the meantime, we are working with the Ruapehu District Council to install new signage in the coming weeks to remind travellers that the Raetihi township is still open for business.”
The Transport Agency reminds road users that the recommended detour route is via State Highways 1, 49 and 3, which will add at least one hour to the journey between Raetihi and Whanganui.
Alternative routes, including River Road and Fields Track, are not suitable for heavy vehicles or large volumes of traffic. While these roads are open to local traffic, the Transport Agency strongly advises that the official detour route via the state highway network is the safest and fastest route available.
For more information, visit nzta.govt.nz/sh4-repairs
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