A new video showing the progress of the work along the 12-kilometre $620 million highway connecting Manawatū and Tararua has just been released.
The drone footage, released by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, takes viewers from the western access at the Ashhurst end of the Manawatū Gorge to the Woodville plains.
The highway, called Te Ahu a Turanga, includes the construction of six bridges and works involving six million cubic metres of earth.
Waka Kotahi’s video comes with a commentary by project engineer Chrissy Reid who described some of the challenges.
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For example, she spoke about the challenges of the wet conditions in Zone Three at the top of the hilly range.
“It’s in a gully at the top of a hill, and it’s really wet, so we’ve spent a lot of time this winter getting some culverts in there and a few stream diversions just to set us up to try to get some great progress done in the summer months.”
Reid talks about features such as Cut 28 which was the deepest cutting in alignment 61m from the top to the sub grade of the road.
“There some really cool geology in this area (Zone 4). You can see it’s a blue -grey colour, what we call the papa material that’s over 5.3 million years old.”
Work was well under way on a new bridge over the Manawatū River at the western end of the gorge.
About 300-350 people were working on site each day and there were more than 150 pieces of machinery being used.
Workers were planning to plant two million trees and plants in the project area.
The road was designed so that cyclists and walkers would be able to safely travel the route on a shared path.
The project was aimed to completed by December 2024.
State Highway 3 through the Manawatū Gorge has been closed since severe weather in April 2017 caused slips that damaged the road.
Continued instability at the Kerry’s Wall site has closed the gorge indefinitely.
Traffic travelling between Tararua and Manawatū has been using the Pahiatua Track which traverses the northern end of the Tararua Range, or the Saddle Road which cuts across the southern end of the Ruahine Range.
The new highway is located to the south of The Saddle Road.