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Slips upset Manawatu Gorge works

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/06/2017

More small slips in the Manawatu Gorge are further challenging crews and engineers working to make the road safe, the NZ Transport Agency says.

Works are ongoing to stabilise hillsides and rock faces to make the road safe for traffic since slips on Anzac Day, but two new slips over the past weekend have shaken up progress near the Kerry's wall rock face.

While the weekend's slips were small, the continued instability at these slip sites is frustrating efforts to make the road safe, NZTA highway manager Ross I'Anson says.

"Given the unpredictable environment in the gorge and its complex geology, it's vital that the geotechnical assessments are thorough in order to understand what additional work may be needed."

The Manawatu Gorge has been closed for over two months, causing frustration to commuters who have to use alternative routes on Saddle Road and the Pahiatua Track, as well as residents affected by extra traffic.

But the NZTA says the recent slips have significantly changed the rock faces above the road.

"We need to be confident that any additional risks that the newly exposed rock might pose for road users are addressed before traffic can return.''

The increased traffic means more wear and tear on Saddle Road so the NZTA has agreed to take over maintenance and management from the Tararua District Council for the remainder of the gorge closure.

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