The NZ Transport Agency says crews at the Manawatu Gorge have enjoyed a productive week rebuilding the highway and are now pushing for one lane to be reopened at the end of the month.
NZTA Palmerston North state highways manager David McGonigal says crews have set themselves a new target of getting the road open by the end of winter, weather permitting.
"We're now getting closer by the day, rather than by the week or month, and if Mother Nature comes to the party we're confident we'll be waving vehicles through earlier than we expected."
"While work will continue onsite for a while, our top focus right now is getting ready to have one lane available for the public to use within two weeks."
"We'll then finish the job over September, and hopefully have the road fully reopened to two lanes around late September."
Mr McGonigal says the NZTA will issue an update next week to update the reopening timeframe.
He says teams have made great progress on the retaining wall and bridge, and have also been busy on 'rock anchoring' (the insertion of steel rods into the rock) to secure the slope. Work has also continued on laying down the new driving surface, and installing rockfall netting.
He says crews have also been carrying out maintenance and 'tidy up' work on the other parts of the Gorge highway in anticipation of it reopening in the next couple of weeks.
Mr McGonigal says NZTA crews have been busy on the alternative routes repairing damage caused by weeks of lousy weather, and the Agency shares the frustration of motorists.
"Constant rain is a headache for everyone because we have to wait for the weather to ease before we can carry out repairs. The team have been working hard to stay on top of things and I'd like to thank them for their tireless efforts on what we recognise is a challenging road."
"Most motorists have exercised great care on the alternative routes, and we encourage motorists to remain watchful and drive to the conditions at all times."