The NZ Transport Agency is making excellent progress with a track up to the crest of the Manawatu Gorge slip site, and heavy equipment is due to begin work next week attacking the unstable slope from the top down.
NZTA state highways manager David McGonigal says work is progressing well to complete the track through farmland and bush, which will clear a path for the NZTA to transport heavy machinery to the crest. Work began on Monday and the crews expect to reach the top of the slope today.
"We're making really good progress, and on an unexpectedly positive note, the Department of Conservation have revealed they've been wanting a track in this area for some time, so we’ve realigned our track to help us achieve a win-win for both parties, which is a great outcome," said Mr McGonigal.
Mr McGonigal says engineers and geologists are continuing to assess the slip-face and surrounding area.
"The latest info we have is that the ‘lip’ at the top of the slip is still very unstable, which will affect how close our machines can get to it."
"Once in place, our machines will begin to remove material from the top of the slip in ‘benches’, which are terraces that will create level stable areas from which machines and men can operate safely as they work to get on top of this slip."
Mr McGonigal says the work site is being set up today and that he expects to have machines in place to start the benching process by next Wednesday.
"We have a tree crew working to clear scrub from the top of the slip so that we can get a good look at it before machinery goes onto the hillside.
"Safety is absolutely paramount, and throughout this operation, spotters will continually be scanning the slip face watching for any signs of movement. If movement is detected work will stop immediately, and the team will reassess before continuing work."
Mr McGonigal says down in the gorge itself, river engineers are investigating any impacts the slip is having on the river. Preliminary reports suggest that there are currently no issues of concern.
Meanwhile, work is well underway on the three slow vehicle bays on the Saddle Road.
Crews are continually monitoring the state of this route and making running repairs as required.
Various areas have been identified as needing repair, including repairs to a culvert yesterday morning. The team were on site immediately carrying out urgent repair - much as they were last week when there was a minor slip on the Pahiatua Track.
The NZTA will release a further update next week.