The Waioeka Gorge between Opotiki and Gisborne could remain closed for a month says the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) after preliminary inspections identified yesterdays slip could be ten times larger than the 10,000 cubic metres that came down on Friday.
The NZTA's acting BOP State Highway Manager, Andrew Scott says the amount of slip material that came down yesterday, will take much longer to move and some stabilisation work will need to be undertaken before the Waioeka Gorge could be re-open to traffic.
Mr Scott says they will have a better understanding early this week as to when the Gorge could be re-opened once investigations have been completed, however clearing the slip will take at least a week, but more likely a month.
"We need to be satisfied that the Gorge is safe for drivers to use, so while we are clearing slip material we will also be determining the best cause of action to stabilise rockface areas that could have been weakened by the slips", says Mr Scott.
We advise drivers to use alternative routes either SH35 around the East Cape, or SH5 through Taupo and to visit our website (Road and Travel Info section) for updates on the Gorge and other highways information.
We apologise to motorists for the disruption this has caused and we continue to assure those affected by the closure that we are working hard to safely re-open the Waioeka Gorge as soon as possible, says Mr Scott.