Manawatu Gorge road suffers another blow
A fresh slip has fallen on the closed road through the Manawatu Gorge.
The third slip since late April has compounded the New Zealand Transport Agency fears about the gorge’s instability, which prompted its indefinite closure from July 7.
The agency’s regional transport systems manager Ross I’Anson said about 10,000 cubic metres of material, including large boulders, was discovered by contractors inspecting the route on Monday morning.
The slip was likely to have come down some time during the weekend because of heavy rain.
I’Anson said the new slip was about 500 metres from the locked gate at the Ashhurst end of the gorge.
‘‘This illustrates how prone the gorge currently is to slips due to the substantial movement recently measured in the hillside.
‘‘The area is highly unstable and the transport agency is warning people to stay away from the slip site and not to proceed beyond the locked gate at the entrances to the gorge.’’
Geotechnical engineers would review the new slip, and the hill- side above it.
I’Anson said motorists should continue to use alternative routes, the Saddle Rd and the Pahiatua Track, which were also undergoing intensive maintenance.
The agency was working on solutions to issues raised by the public in meetings last week to manage the effect of the gorge’s closure, especially for Ashhurst and Woodville.
Commuters on the windy alternatives are also doing it tough.
Palmerston North-based courier driver Judith Graham is worried the daily commute to Dannevirke will become unsustainable.
When the gorge was closed for more than one year in 2011/12 her business with her husband was down about $30,000, she said.
This time around, they were ‘‘bearing the brunt of it’’ for now, but if the costs got too high they would have to consider giving up the courier route they have worked for nine years.
The NZ Transport Agency started maintenance work on Saddle Rd, on July 15, to clean up the dozens of potholes that line the road, but this means vehicle use is restricted to one lane.
NZTA The transport agency took over the management and maintenance of Saddle Rd from Tararua District Council at the start of July. It plans to have work finished by the start of August.
A new slip has fallen on the alreadyclosed Manawatu Gorge road.