New road for Awatere Valley after slip cleared
A new road is planned once a major slip is cleared on one of Marlborough's main rural routes.
The Awatere Valley Road has been closed to traffic since the 7.8-magnitude Kaikoura earthquake caused a massive slip on November 14.
Farming families in the valley have had their farming operations disrupted waiting for the slip to be cleared by contractors.
The unsealed back country road is a popular summer route for motorists travelling through the Molesworth Station to Hanmer.
Since the earthquake, motorists have only been able to travel from Hanmer to Molesworth and return by the same route.
Marlborough Roads manager Frank Porter said contractors had been making good progress working over the Christmas and New Year period.
The Awatere Valley slip was complex and high risk with geotechnical challenges and worker safety was a high priority, Porter said.
"We have been using remotely operated diggers, and have an earthmoving machine on the other side of the slip.
"Once the slip is cleared there is a further issue with extensive cracking on the road around 4 kilometres from the slip site."
Porter said the road segment was unsafe for vehicles and a new road would need to be built.
Because of the complex nature of the project it was not possible to give a date for when the road would be open to the public.
"It is still likely to be a number of weeks away," he said.
It is estimated 3000 cubic metres of material, enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, needs to be cleared from the slip to reopen the road.
Camden Station co-owner Kelly Pitts said the continued road closure was "frustrating" and a "bit inconvenient" because heavy vehicles that needed to take stock and wool to markets were not able to access the road.
"We've walked 120 dry ewes around the top of the slip on foot to the Jordan Station and to get them trucked out but it was long process."
Pitts, who farmed the two properties with husband Hugo, said diesel and fertiliser still needed to be trucked in.
"It looks like if a new road is built we may not see any trucks for another month."
Groceries and mail deliveries had not been affected, she said.
"It will be nice when the slip is cleared and we can get back to normal."
Awapiri Station owner Eric Smith, who farm borders Camden on the other side of the slip, said it was costly to keep stock on the farm when they were ready to be sold.
"Some farmers are missing out on schedule prices at the sales.
"Apart from that we are not panicking.
"We've finished tailing, and now we are onto repairing fencing damage from the earthquake which hasn't been to major, just a matter of putting waratahs back in place.
Department of Conservation Renwick senior ranger recreation and historic James Gilmour said motorists travelling from Hanmer to the Molesworth needed to ensure they had a full tank of fuel to complete the approximately 200-kilometre return journey.
Gilmour said traffic numbers to the station have been steady during the holiday period.
- The Marlborough Express