The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists that the Manawatu Gorge will be closed for two days to allow crews to move the temporary road to a more resilient location.
NZTA Palmerston North state highways manager David McGonigal says following the completion of a section of bridge construction work, more room has been freed up to shift the road a little closer 'inland', giving greater security to motorists and protecting the route from erosion.
Mr McGonigal says recent wet weather and high river levels has resulted in some erosion of the slope on the river side, and the NZTA is acting now to move the road to an area less susceptible to erosion.
The road will be closed from 8am on Monday 2 July to 6pm on Tuesday 3 July.
Mr McGonigal says the existing road is secure and there are no safety concerns. The move will help to future-proof against storm events over winter that could eat away at the slope that is helping to support the road. He says the NZTA are grateful to motorists for their patience while this important work is undertaken.
While the closure is in place, motorists will need to revert to using the alternative routes both day and night. Electronic information signs will communicate the closure information to motorists, and motorists are asked to observe the signs at all times.
"It's great to be able to move the road closer towards its final resting place, as it gives us a really good buffer, helping us stay one step ahead of Mother Nature.
"We appreciate the temporary closure is an inconvenience for people, but the upshot is that it might help prevent a longer closure if a storm hits because it makes the road more secure and resilient."
Mr McGonigal says the closure will also enable the NZTA to make some extra inroads in bridge construction work.
"The bridge crews will be able to pick up the pace while the road is being moved, which kills two birds with one stone and speeds things along."
He says that despite recent bad weather, progress is still going strong, with work continuing installing bridge piles, and half of the bridge abutments now installed.
Mr McGonigal noted that while most people were using the gorge responsibly, a small minority of motorists had been observed some were speeding and overtaking in a dangerous manner, particularly after exiting the bridge construction zone.
"It's important for everyone that the gorge operates safely at all times, and a few motorists are putting their fellow motorists at risk by speeding or carrying out dangerous overtaking manoeuvres, particularly at night. We've had people coming out of the construction site overtaking long lines of vehicles, and this needs to stop We ask that people think twice and give safety the benefit of the doubt at all times."
For more information about the Manawatu Gorge, people can visit www.nzta.govt.nz/manawatu-gorge(external link), or email firstname.lastname@example.org