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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

A new lane at the summit of Saddle Road is now available for drivers to use while work continues to stabilise the road and repair cracks identified last month.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Manawatū-Whanganui System Manager Rob Service says cracking in the road’s surface was caused by the impact of last month’s heavy rain.

“Waka Kotahi closely monitors all known land movement and slips on the Saddle Road, and elsewhere on the state highway network. However, the increasing frequency and intensity of severe weather events as a result of climate change means that slips and closures are becoming more common across New Zealand, on state highways as well as on local roads.

“Through our proactive monitoring we discovered that the retaining wall at the summit of Saddle Road was showing signs of slipping into the valley below, with cracks forming on the road.

“We took immediate steps to reduce the width of lanes and introduce a temporary speed limit at this site before contractors quickly got started quickly on construction of the new lane.”

New line markings on the road were completed last week, following construction of the new lane.

Road users are asked to avoid using the old part of the carriageway. This area is clearly marked with diagonal yellow lines and reflective marker posts.

Mr Service says some work to stabilise the retaining wall has been carried out and there are more geotechnical investigations to be done.

“We are doing further survey work to identify the size of the slip plane and whether any further work is needed in this area in the future.”

State highway traffic has been rerouted across Saddle Road, and the Pahiatua Track, since the road through the Manawatū Gorge was closed in 2017.

Significant upgrades have been carried out on Saddle Road to ensure it is suitable for the increased traffic volumes, and good progress is being made on the construction of Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway.

Te Ahu a Turanga – Manawatū Tararua Highway

A truck approaches the new road layout at the Summit of the Saddle Road.