Step by step as Gorge operation progresses


The NZTA has made good progress on stabilising the Manawatu Gorge, with the benching operation at the top of the hillside already well underway.

NZTA state highways manager David McGonigal says the NZTA has completed the first step in the benching process, which involves terracing the top of the hillside to secure it from further slips.

Nearby examples of benching can be seen on the other side of the river near Ballance Gorge Road.

"It's been a challenging operation getting to this point, so it's really rewarding to see the first bench completed and our plans taking shape."

"We've got bulldozers moving the material across the slope to the diggers, which then lift it and send down the chute.  Material sent down the chute will be removed from the bottom once the slip-face has been stabilised."

Mr McGonigal says the team is now working seven days a week, weather permitting, although rain has understandably caused some delays over the last few days.

Mr McGonigal says the NZTA is working closely with Horizons Regional Council to ensure that all work, including the track cutting and benching, complies with the RMA and has minimal impacts on the surrounding environment.

"We're also continuing to look for ways to speed up the clearing process, such as dual excavation operations at the top and bottom of the slip and moving our work schedule to 24/7 as soon as it is safe to do so."

Meanwhile, Mr McGonigal said truckies deserved a big pat on the back for their safe and considerate driving on the alternative routes.

"We've had a lot of positive feedback from the public about how the vast majority of truckies have been driving with great care and consideration, in particular pulling aside to let vehicles pass them. This makes a real difference for everyone because it reduces holdups and makes journeys safer by reducing the need for risky passing manouvres."

"We know traveling on the alternative routes is no picnic for truckies, and we're really appreciative of how considerate they've been under trying circumstances."