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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Daytime closures of the Saddle Road will continue into next week, with emergency works to repair cracks in the road near the summit to get underway.

Embankment works at the summit of the Saddle Road

Following the heavy rain experienced by the region earlier this month, a gabion basket (a cage filled with rocks) retaining wall near the summit was identified as showing signs of slipping into the valley below. Following further monitoring, increasing movement was noted with large cracks forming  on the road.

From Monday 25 July to Friday 29 July there will be stop/go traffic control in place from 7am to 9am, followed by full road closures between 9am and 2.30pm, reverting back to stop/go from 2.30pm to 5pm.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Manawatū-Whanganui System Manager Rob Service says immediate steps have been taken to reduce the lanes and introduce a temporary speed limit of 30km/h in the area, following a geotechnical investigation.

“Work to cut back the embankment on the opposite side of the road down to the corner will get underway this week. This will give our contractors room to construct a temporary traffic lane and allow them to shift the road away from the cracking.

“At the same time, we will be undertaking a drone survey of the full area to gain detailed data about the topography of the area and conducting drilling investigations to understand the underlying ground make-up to inform the long-term solution,” Mr Service says.

“Saddle Road is a critical link for the Central North Island connecting the Manawatū-Whanganui, Taranaki, Tararua and Hawke’s Bay regions. It’s also a key alternative if the Remutaka Hill in the Wellington region is restricted or closed.

“We are committed to ensuring it remains a safe and efficient connection for all those who use it.”

The road has been closed during the day for much of the school holidays to allow essential resurfacing and maintenance work to be completed. Work was paused and the road reopened for several days during last week’s weather event when the detour route via the Pahiatua Track had to be closed due to numerous slips.

Mr Service says contractors have made good progress on the resurfacing and maintenance work.

“This work will continue during next week’s closure to finish the work that was delayed when the road was reopened during the time the Pahiatua Track was closed last week.”

Waka Kotahi thanks everyone for their patience while we undertake these important works.

Asphalting works on the Saddle Road