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Work underway on SH43 Tunnel Hill slip site

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Physical work to get State Highway 43 temporarily reinstated to one lane at Tunnel Hill, Aukopae, is well underway.

The road has been closed to all through traffic since 15 October due to a large underslip, with a detour in place.

Motorists travelling north along SH43 to Taumarunui, should follow the signposted detour along Mangaparo Road, Ohura Road and Okahukura Saddle Road onto State Highway 4 to Taumarunui. Those travelling south should turn off SH4 onto Okahukura Saddle Road, then Ohura Road and Mangaparo Road onto SH43. This detour adds at least 40 minutes to the journey between Taumarunui and Stratford.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Transport System Manager Mark Owen says after investigating the site, the Transport Agency considered a number of options to get the road up and running as quickly as possible.

“We decided to build a minor retreat into the hillside to allow one lane of traffic through the site until permanent repairs can be made.

“This involves digging out a small amount of the hill adjacent to the road and stabilising it with large rocks so that we can widen the road away from the slip edge. This will create enough space for vehicles to safely travel through the area, away from the slip edge.

“Work is progressing well so far, and we hope to be able to have one lane up and running before Christmas. However, our ability to meet this timeframe is heavily dependent on the stability of the hill and on the weather remaining fine.

“Land in this area is extremely unstable, so we need to work very carefully to avoid causing further slips and to ensure the safety of our workers and to provide a safe robust roadway,” says Mr Owen.

The road will remain closed to all through traffic while work is completed. Options for permanently repairing the road are still being investigated.

The Transport Agency thanks residents and motorists for their patience while it works to get the road back up and running.

“We understand the road closure has an impact on local businesses, especially over the summer season, so we want to assure everyone we are working as quickly as we can to get the road reinstated,” says Mr Owen.

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