Families get relief as road reopens

HELEN MURDOCH
Last updated 13:00 03/12/2012

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The Graham Valley South Branch Rd to Flora carpark reopened on Saturday, to the relief of families who have had to walk across a major slip for the past five months.

A small earthquake and heavy winter rain brought down the slip in late June on a section of the steep access road into Kahurangi National Park, cutting access for three families.

Subsequent falls of material at the slip face, which was discovered to be a minor fault line, saw 30,000 cubic metres of material trucked to dump sites on nearby private land.

About 2000 cubic metres will be crushed and used to resurface the road and tracks into the park.

Tasman District Council transportation maintenance engineer Selwyn Steedman said the job had cost just over $300,000.

The cost was shared between the Department of Conservation and the council, with the NZ Transport Agency funding 60 per cent of the total bill.

Mark Townsend, of Motueka DOC, said the affected families had been patient, and contractors Dusty Diggers had been unbelievable in carrying out the dangerous work through the worst of winter.

Barry Mogford, of Dusty Diggers, said the conditions had been atrocious, but he would miss the families and their regular gifts of scones.

Mr Mogford operated the firm's reinforced 20-tonne digger at the foot of the slip while a spotter on the adjoining slope stayed in constant radio contact to warn him of falling rock.

Rock continued to fall from the slip until it worked its way back to the ridgeline, he said.

"You get quite attached to a job, and working with the families up here has been awesome."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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