Gorge gets $2.2m up­grade

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS -

Work is un­der­way to in­stall around 1.5km of net­ting to pro­tect mo­torists from rock­falls in the Manawatu Gorge.

Trans­port Agency Palmer­ston North highways man­ager David McGoni­gal says the work which started on Mon­day and will last un­til Novem­ber, tar­gets ar­eas af­fected by the June floods.

When sum­mer ar­rives, other lo­ca­tions along the high­way will be in for fur­ther TLC.

‘‘As well as rock­fall net­ting we’re in­stalling con­crete bar­ri­ers to help keep de­bris away from mo­torists, and rock nails driven into the hill­side to help hold it to­gether,’’ David says. ‘‘Our crews will also be scal­ing the hill­side to clear loose ma­te­rial from high up on the slope.’’

The work will be car­ried out be­tween 7am – 6pm us­ing what is be­lieved to be the coun­try’s only tele­han­dler – a cross be­tween a cherry-picker and a trac­tor. It means a crane won’t be needed to in­stall the net­ting, and the road, though re­duced to one lane with stop-go traf­fic man­age­ment through the work sites, will re­main open.

David says de­lays are ex­pected to be mi­nor, while crews will try and keep any dis­rup­tion to a min­i­mum.

‘‘We’re re­ally grate­ful to mo­torists for their pa­tience while we get this im­por­tant work done. Once it’s fin­ished, the gorge will be safer and more se­cure than ever be­fore.’’

Tararua Dis­trict Coun­cil is con­tin­u­ing work on the Sad­dle Road up­grade so it can pro­vide a much im­proved al­ter­na­tive route in the event of fu­ture gorge clo­sures.

PHOTO: KELSEY WILKIE/ FAIR­FAX NZ.

The Manawatu Gorge got its rocks off sev­eral times dur­ing the win­ter, with a rock­fall caus­ing this dra­matic tanker crash in July.

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