Work is progressing to build a temporary road to reconnect State Highway 4 between Raetihi and Whanganui, following the October slip that significantly damaged the road and forced it to close.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency teams have been onsite with machinery since last week, where they have commenced drainage and revegetation work on the slip face.
While the site is still vulnerable to further slippage, especially after heavy rains, recent geotechnical assessments have given the Transport Agency confidence that construction of the temporary road can get underway.
“We know how important this road is to locals, road users and businesses, and we’re working hard to restore temporary access to the route as soon as we can,” Regional Transport Systems Manager Mark Owen says.
“Safety is our number one priority so we’re constantly monitoring the site for any movement that could make it unsafe for our workers, but we’re pleased with how the work is progressing so far.
“We expect that a full temporary road could be completed early next year. However, it is likely that there will be limitations on its use. The road will be under constant observation and should it be deemed unsafe at any time, we will close the road immediately and possibly at short notice.”
Workers on the project are staying in the region, with many stationed in Raetihi where local businesses have been impacted by the closure of State Highway 4.
“We’d like to thank the community for their warm welcome and friendly hospitality. Since the closure of the road, they have been very patient and understanding,” Mr Owen says.
“While we build the temporary road, we are also exploring a range of long-term options to permanently reinstate State Highway 4. We hope to be able to announce a preferred option in the coming months.”
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 and photos, visit nzta.govt.nz/sh4-repairs
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