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Construction and environmental protection working side by side at Mt Messenger

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Work on Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass is pressing ahead with the construction of a safer, more resilient route between Taranaki and the Waikato alongside significant biodiversity enhancement in the surrounding area, for decades to come.

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An excavator is helicoptered into a remote area of the SH3 Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass project site.

Progress on both fronts is well underway, with the most visible activity being last week’s helicopter lifts of three excavators into a remote area of the new highway alignment. The excavators will allow the Mt Messenger Alliance to continue work on the northern anchor point of the project’s 1.1km cableway, which will take machinery and personnel into the heart of the build.

While the excavators get to work, the project is building a kiwi fence in bush around the northern anchor point as a safety net to keep kiwi and other wildlife clear of the work area.

The team’s ecologists have been monitoring kiwi in the area for many years, fitting them with radio tracking collars to understand the size of their territories and ensure the project is aware of their whereabouts, says Waka Kotahi Principal Project Manager Chris Nally.

“Throughout the project we’ll be taking a number of measures to protect kiwi, including the use of specialist dogs and handlers to detect kiwi without radio tracking collars. Any kiwi at risk of harm will be carefully moved to a safe part of their territory.”

The project is also committed to protecting other native wildlife in the area, including long-tailed bats, lizards and freshwater fish. Development of a 3,650ha pest management area on either side of the new route will play a key role in minimising the threats from predators such as rats, stoats, ferrets and possums.

As works progress, the current stop/go controls on SH3 adjacent to the project site will continue from 7am to 5pm daily, including weekends, for approximately 70% of the time, until at least the end of September. As at present, delays are expected to be no more than 15 minutes.

Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass

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The SH3 Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass project site.

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