Work nearly finished on fifth and final Gorge bench


The NZ Transport Agency says road crews have nearly finished work on the fifth and final bench at the Manawatu Gorge, as a convoy of trucks makes inroads into the slip material beneath.

NZTA regional state highways manager David McGonigal says crews have enjoyed another week of excellent progress up on the slip.

"Work on the final bench is nearly finished, we're carting big truckloads of slip material from both the Ashhurst and Woodville ends of the slip, and so far the weather's been with us. We've even choppered out the shed at the very top of the slip because our work up there is well and truly done.

To put all that dirt in perspective:

  • A rugby field is 100m x 60m.
  • The volume of the slip material is 315,000m3-that's like covering the pitch in a 52.5m deep layer of dirt, rocks and scrub.
  • We have already moved 202,000m3-that's equivalent to 33.7m worth off the field.
  • That leaves us with 18.8m (or 113,00m3) to go till we can play on the field again.

Mr McGonigal says plant life has recovered well at the slip, with a more intense green tinge coming through at the top.

"The combination of intensive hydroseeding, enough rain and plenty of sunshine is really starting to make a difference.

"It may seem like only a patch of grass, but it's the foundation for future growth that will jump-start the regeneration of plant life on the slope. It's no longer just a slip site-it's a whole new bank."

Mr McGonigal says yesterday's truck crash on the Saddle Road, while fortunately resulting in no injuries, was a timely reminder to drive safely.

"It's really important that people drive with care and watch their speeds, particularly with all the roadworks to keep the Saddle Road up to scratch. We know that slower speeds can be frustrating, but the 30km/h speed restrictions are there for a reason, and need to be observed."

Mr McGonigal said that the river is still closed 200 metres either side of the slip for safety reasons, and will remain so until the NZTA finishes the earthworks above it.