The Manawatu Gorge will be closed for two days next week while crews move a temporary section of State Highway 3 to a more resilient location.
The road, which opened in late May after a nine-month closure caused by several slips, will close from 8am on Monday until 6pm on Tuesday.
New Zealand Transport Agency Palmerston North state highways manager David McGonigal said because a section of bridge construction work had been completed, room had been freed up to shift the road closer to the hillside.
This would give greater security to motorists and protect the route from erosion, he said.
"It's great to be able to move the road closer towards its final resting place, as it gives us a really good buffer, helping us to stay one step ahead of mother nature.
"We appreciate the temporary closure is an inconvenience for people, but the upshot is that it might help prevent a longer closure if a storm hits, because it makes the road more secure and resilient."
While contractors replace a bridge destroyed by a slip in October, a one-lane road has been built around their work site in the gorge. The road sits, in part, on top of slip material that has fallen into the Manawatu River.
Mr McGonigal said recent wet weather and high river levels had resulted in some erosion of the slope on the river side, and the NZTA was acting now to move the road to an area less susceptible to erosion.
The existing road was secure and there were no safety concerns, he said.
While the road is closed, motorists will need to revert to using the alternative routes. When the gorge is reopened, traffic travelling from Woodville to Ashhurst will use SH3 while motorists going in the other direction will take the alternative routes. Electronic information signs near Ashhurst and Woodville would inform motorists what the status of the road was.
Mr McGonigal said the two-day closure would allow the NZTA to make some extra inroads regarding the bridge construction work.
"The bridge crews will be able to pick up the pace while the road is being moved, which kills two birds with one stone and speeds things along."
He said that despite recent bad weather, progress was still going strong.
Work continued to install bridge piles, and half of the bridge abutments had been put in.
The replacement of the damaged bridge in the gorge was expected to take until mid-September.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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