Trucks are once again carting away slip debris round the clock, and NZTA Palmerston North state highways manager David McGonigal says this has led to another week of excellent progress clearing the gorge.
“With 24/7 operations back in place at the Ashhurst end of the slip, things are really going full tilt. The guys are well and truly slogging it out. They’ve already removed close to 250,000 cubic metres, and they’ll keep going, truckload after truckload, night and day. That’s what it’s going to take to get this massive job done, so as long as it safe to do so, we’ll keep it up.”
Night-time operations do pose some specific health and safety risks, and Mr McGonigal says that crews receive special training to cover off all the hazards and procedures that go along with this work. In addition, special signage, lighting and speed restrictions are in place on-site, to ensure that operations are carried out as safely as possible.
"We're proud of our safety record to date and we intend to keep it that way. Safety remains paramount at all times on this job, both up on the slip itself and in the carting operations below.”
Mr McGonigal also says that while the NZTA hasn’t yet been able to go 24/7 at the Woodville end, they are looking into it and will advise the public if and when they decide to extend operations there.
The full extent of the damage to the bridges underneath the slip is still unknown, and Mr McGonigal says that the NZTA still needs to fully dig the road and bridges out before a complete assessment of any damage can be made.
“What we find when they are fully uncovered will certainly influence the re-opening date, and I will provide updates on the situation as they come to light.”
Mr McGonigal stressed the NZTA’s appreciation of the community’s ongoing patience and understanding throughout this historic closure.
“This slip has had an impact on everyone in the region—motorists, truckies, local residents and businesses, road crews working hard to maintain the alternate routes, and of course the guys who are up there working tirelessly to get this road re-opened.
“My sincere thanks goes out to everyone for their understanding during this time.”
All Manawatu Gorge updates and media releases, plus more photographs and diagrams, are on the NZTA’s dedicated Manawatu Gorge web page(external link).