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Solid start for Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass

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Early works are progressing well in preparation for the installation of a cableway for the Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass project later this year.

The cableway will carry machinery and personnel over 600m of forest into the heart of the 6km route. Anchored 20m deep into hillsides north and south of a central tower, the structure will span a total of 1.1km.

The Mt Messenger Alliance has made a solid start to the project, says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Principal Project Manager Chris Nally.

“Since starting physical works in mid-May the team has been busy with vegetation clearance and earthworks for the cableway’s southern anchor point, and is now starting work on the northern anchor point as well as the location of the structure’s central tower.

“Once the cableway is up and running we can get to work constructing a safer, more reliable and more resilient section of State Highway 3.”

The cableway’s 28m central tower will be sited adjacent to the former rest area at the summit of SH3 Mt Messenger.

To reduce disruption to motorists, the Alliance will shortly be sealing a southbound stopping bay north of the summit, enabling trucks to allow smaller vehicles to pass. This will replace a similar facility at the site of the former rest area, which is now being used by the project’s construction team.

In the coming weeks helicopters will be seen transporting equipment to the site of the cableway’s northern anchor point.

Running parallel to construction activity, the project’s major environmental commitment is underway with the first new tracks being formed for a 3650ha pest management area on either side of the bypass, as well as the start of seedling production for the early stages of a 32ha programme of forest, wetland and riparian planting.

“Care for native flora and fauna is a hugely important feature of this project,” says Mr Nally.

“Alongside our iwi partner Ngāti Tama, we aim to minimise the effects of construction and breathe new life into populations of native birds, bats and lizards, and the surrounding forest, that have all suffered greatly from high pest numbers.”

For approximately 70 per cent of the time until at least the end of July, the current Stop/Go Mt Messenger traffic controls will continue to operate between 7am and 5pm daily including weekends.

“These traffic controls will allow us to maintain the great progress being made, while ensuring the safety of both the project team and motorists. We understand this is inconvenient for road users and will continue to do all we can to limit disruption” says Mr Nally.

As at present, delays are expected to be no more than 15 minutes.

No work will take place, and therefore no traffic controls will operate, over the Matariki long weekend of Friday 24, Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June 2022.

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