Stabilising the slip face is critical to getting the state highway reopened quickly, says NZTA.
Bay of Plenty state highways manager Brett Gliddon says contracting crew have made steady progress with already two-thirds of the slip face relatively stable, however despite the 7 days a week, 12 hours a day operation there is still a large rocky outcrop that is proving to be difficult and dangerous to dislodge.
Mr Gliddon says the winching operation has removed the majority of the logs that make up this rocky outcrop, but that there is still a considerable amount of material consisting of rubble that is still to come down and until then the slip face remains unstable.
"This bulk slip material sits in the middle of the slope face, we still cannot get the machines in yet as it is still unstable to create access to it, our focus continues to be on dislodging the heavy rock and soil material so we can get our machines in to clean up", he says.
Mr Gliddon says heavy rain expected to be in the area until Thursday will help to remove smaller slip material, but will not have a major impact on dislodging this rocky outcrop.
Sluicing efforts will continue once the chopper is able to get clear visibility which has been hampered by the consisted heavy rain and wind conditions.
In the meantime, efforts by the NZTA to establish a temporary diversion route is being advanced to provide relief for the region which has been disrupted as a result of the gorge closure.
Mr Gliddon says the temporary diversion route will provide restricted access around the slip face, once the slope has been stabilised.
"This temporary diversion is not going to provide a cure-for-all situation as there will be significant restrictions on using it– but this is about providing some relief to the region."
We want to thanks motorists and businesses for their ongoing patience, we know this has been difficult time and the impact has been great, but we are certainly making progress and our priority continues to be on stabilising the slip face and advancing a temporary diversion route option.
Meanwhile, the NZTA continues to encourage motorists to use alternative routes such as State Highway 35 around the East Cape and State Highway 5 through Taupo.
For information on the Waioeka Gorge slip go to www.nzta.govt.nz/waioeka-gorge(external link).