Gorge gets $2.2m upgrade
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.
The Manawatu Gorge got its rocks off several times during the winter, with a rockfall causing this dramatic tanker crash in July.