The NZ Transport Agency says that crews have reached a milestone at the Manawatu Gorge, with the slip now fully cleared down to ground level.
NZTA state highways manager Palmerston North David McGonigal says the demolition of the bridges is complete, and the team are already cracking on with getting the bridges replaced. Crews are carrying out preparatory drilling work onsite for the installation of new bridge foundations, and have installed new beams at the Ashhurst end of the gorge.
Mr McGonigal says teams are also busy nstalling anchors into the face of the slip for netting that is to be erected on the slope.
“It’s a huge milestone to have the road cleared, and now we can focus single-mindedly on the job of getting the road fit, ready and safe for motorists to travel on.”
“This involves building a one-lane road for traffic to use when the road partially reopens late month, replacing the bridges that were destroyed in the slip, and installing rockfall netting on the slope.”
“We’ve overcome an enormous hurdle, and the team deserve high praise for getting through what’s a huge amount of earthworks.”
Mr McGonigal says the amount of dirt moved is around 370,000 cubic metres, enough to fill a bathtub in every New Zealand household.
The NZTA is also reminding the public that the Manawatu Gorge will be on show for the public this Sunday, with a charity open day being held in support of the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter.
NZTA state highways manager David McGonigal says the NZTA, with the Manawatu Events Equipment Trust in support of the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter, is inviting the public to the first official ‘up close and personal’ look at the site where the largest known slip to ever block a New Zealand highway came down last year.
The Open Day is being held in support of the Rescue Helicopter, and will be held on the Ashhurst side of the gorge between 10am and 3pm.
Mr McGonigal says volunteers for the Rescue Helicopter will be onsite to collect gold coin donations, and stalls selling food and other goodies will be in place at the Department of Conservation Carpark.
Mr McGonigal says construction work and onsite safety issues will mean the public will not be able to walk on the area directly in front of the slip, but they can view the slip from a stone’s throw away to appreciate its sheer scale.
Car parking will be available and free charter buses will also be available on the day from Palmerston North, Ashhurst and Woodville. Buses will run on a ‘first in first served basis’, and patrons are advised to turn up a few minutes early to secure a seat. Buses will also return to their original pick-up points to drop people off.
Mr McGonigal says that with an unprecedented event such as this, it is very difficult to predict the turnout, although early indications are that interest will be high. He says that while the NZTA officials will be working throughout the day to keep traffic and people moving smoothly through the site, traffic delays could be possible in the event of good weather and an enthusiastic turnout. He says the NZTA ask that people exercise patience in the event of delays.
Mr McGonigal says people are also advised to bring spare change to donate to the Rescue helicopter, and also to purchase food and drinks
Mr McGonigal says the NZTA is grateful to the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter and Manawatu Events Equipment Trust for getting behind the Open Day and helping to raise money for a worthy cause while giving the public this unique opportunity to see the gorge up close.
Waldegrave Street car park - approx 10am, 11am, midday, 1pm, 2pm
Main Road rugby grounds - approx 10am, 11.30am, 1pm
Guildford Street bus stop outside 4 Square - approx 10.30, midday and 1.30pm.
All buses will return to their original pick-up points to take guests back.