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Gorge could be closed for another 3 or 4 days

Wanganui Regional Office Media Release

14 October 2004

Gorge could be closed for another three or four days

The Manawatu Gorge on State Highway 3 is likely to be closed for another three or four days to enable loose rock to be cleared from the site of a large slip around one kilometre from the Palmerston North end of the route.

Some 6,000 cubic metres of loose dry material were brought down by a slip that closed the road at around 11pm on Wednesday. The slip is approximately 60 metres high and 40 metres wide.

Transit New Zealand regional manager Errol Christiansen said the closure was likely to be longer than earlier estimated because the full extent of rock hanging off the cliff face was not apparent until earlier this afternoon.

“It wasn’t until contractors had cleared some of the rock off the road that we could get close enough to see how stable the slip was. It appears that once all the material is cleared, which should be within 48 hours, there will still be loose rock on the cliff face that will need to be brought down and cleared away.

“Transit is mindful of the economic and social importance of this route for the Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay regions and is working hard to open it as soon as possible. But we can’t let traffic back in the Gorge until we are satisfied it is safe.”

Mr Christiansen said six trucks were being used to move the debris, mainly large rocks, to the soldiers cemetery near Woodville. Much of the rock would be used as back fill at other slip sites currently under repair in the Gorge. “This is a new slip site and is not related to those caused by the storm in February. However, it is an area where loose rock has fallen from time to time and netting to catch such rocks was installed last year.”

He said assessing the stability of the site was an ongoing task, as was assessing what repair work was required.

“Once the rock has been cleared from the road we will be able to get a better picture of any damage to bridges or the road surface. But at this stage we’re not anticipating any major problems.”

ENDS

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