State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge will remain closed for at least another week to enable the NZ Transport Agency to carry out more work stabilising the slope, after more loose material came down overnight.
NZTA regional state highways manager David McGonigal says the NZTA has received a geological assessment of the slope, which has reinforced the need for further work to stabilise the slope before the road can safely reopen. Mr McGonigal says the NZTA now hopes to reopen the road mid to late next week, although this remains dependant on how the hillside behaves.
“We’ve had slips come down the last two nights, so we’re very mindful the hillside still needs to get a fair amount of loose debris out of its system before it’s comfortably settled.
“Cleaning up the slip is just part of the job; the really tricky part is getting the slope stable.
“The safety of motorists remains our most important consideration. While a large amount of rock has come down already, there’s still a significant amount of unstable rock quite high on the slope, and we need to help it on its way before the road is safe to reopen.”
Mr McGonigal says abseilers will soon be at work on the slope, using methods such as hydraulic pressure to dislodge loose material.
Mr McGonigal said the NZTA appreciated the ongoing disruption the closure is causing to motorists.
“We share the frustrations of motorists and truckies, and we’re very conscious of how this may impact on visitors that are travelling for the Rugby World Cup 2011.“
Mr McGonigal reiterated the NZTA’s gratitude to MWH and Higgins, who have been working tirelessly since the first slip came down on August 18.
Mr McGonigal also thanked motorists for their ongoing patience, and the Tararua District Council for the use of the Pahiatua Track and the Saddle Road as alternative routes. Mr McGonigal says the NZTA was mindful these roads were facing wear and tear from the increased use during the closure, and would work closely with council to fund and carry out repairs.
For up to date information on highway closures, conditions or delays, visit www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link) or phone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).