Partial Manawatu Gorge reopening nears as temporary road takes shape


The NZ Transport Agency says crews are making strong progress building a temporary road at the Manawatu Gorge slips site in preparation for the road to be partially reopened next week.

NZTA Palmerston North state highways manager David McGonigal says a temporary road is swiftly taking shape at the site, and conditions permitting, public traffic access will be restored to the gorge by the end of May.  An announcement is expected on Monday to confirm when the Gorge will partially reopen.

"About a week ago the slip was cleared to road level, and crews have launched themselves into building a temporary road to carry one lane of traffic."

Mr McGonigal says only a one lane road is possible due to the site constraints and the need to construct the bridges while traffic is flowing, but the NZTA plans to allow two-way traffic at night-time when traffic levels were lower.

He says that the process of building a temporary road is a complex one, and progress so far has been outstanding.

"With this temporary road, we have to build something that's resilient enough to safely handle thousands of cars and hundreds of heavy trucks a day, so a lot of preparation and careful engineering goes into making sure it's up to the task."

Mr McGonigal says the NZTA was still on track to reopen the road by the end of the month, although that remained dependant on weather and site conditions.

"We were delighted to have the public come along last weekend for the charity open day, and it's exciting to think that next time the public travel through the site it will be in their vehicles, which we expect will be pretty soon."

Mr McGonigal says bridge building experts teams have set up onsite, bringing a crane, drills for column piling, and other equipment to get stuck into the rebuilding of the bridges.

He says the NZTA will be in a position to make an announcement on Monday with specific details of the planned partial reopening of the gorge.