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Manawatu Gorge Situation Update
Read the latest update from State Highways Manager, Palmerston North - David McGonigal
Our geological specialists are mapping the slip via laser scans and on Wednesday 2nd November they took to the air to get a bird’s eye view. The photograph below clearly shows you the scale, size and location of the slip within the gorge. The basin-shaped form of the large old landslide on the slope is visible above the most recent failure, extending up to the ridge crest.
Our specialists are recommending that the removal of the unstable mass above the present landslide area is the priority and the biggest hurdle in getting the road open again. We can remove it in one of two ways: either by gaining access through the bush from the top of the hill (we are currently talking with DOC and local landowners) or by winching our machinery up the hillside. We are currently working with DOC to finalise the logistics of both approaches. We expect this work to take approximately one week.
We re-started excavation to expose the road half-bridge at the Woodville end of the slip this week (week beginning 31 October). We needed to uncover in order to assess any damage to the underlying structure. This work has to be done on a ‘steady as she goes’ basis, with the diggers ‘nibbling’ away at the side of the slip as this material is supporting the mass higher up the slope. The team continually assess the hillside and this clearing work has also been stopped due to safety concerns.
Maintaining Saddle Hill and Pahiatua Track
NZTA road crews continue to be on-call 24/7 and where possible will carry out repairs and upgrades at off-peak times to limit disruption to motorists.
Work installing four slow vehicle bays on Saddle Hill will start on Monday 7 November 2011.
We understand that visitor numbers to the walking track have declined, and we have now put up signs to let walkers know that access to the carpark is still open.
Thank you for your understanding
We appreciate that people are frustrated about the length of this closure. So are we. We remain focused on getting the highway reopened as soon as it’s safe to do so, as well as keeping the alternative routes well maintained and safe in the meantime.
Keep an eye on our website www.nzta.govt.nz for the latest information on the closure.