Below is the latest update on the gorge.
Ongoing safety concerns mean that machine clearing work has been halted since the 17 October slip. The instability of the hillside and on-going slips are the key challenges to overcome. Risks around allowing work crews to operate below the slip face and clear the road have been deemed too high to continue. Safety must be our first priority, and the manned operation has been removed from the site. This decision was informed by 3 independent geological specialists.
The hillside where the slip has occurred is part of a prehistoric landslip, thought to have formed thousands of years ago during the formation of the gorge.
Based on the nature of the present slip face and the development of the landslide to date, we expect further slips to occur, especially during heavy rainfall or strong earthquake shaking. Some of these may still be significant.
To re-open the road, we have to stablise the hillside, then clear the slip material from the road, check the bridge structures and carry out remedial work.
Stabilising the hillside is the key challenge and the project team are currently looking at options to achieve this. Each option has its own risks in regards to safety, effectiveness and time and these need to be carefully assessed. A project team meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 4 November to review and refine all options and to determine which option is most practical, the safest to execute, and will minimise the length of the on-going closure.
We are confident that we will be in a position to communicate our final plan of action within the next 2 to 3 weeks. I will continue to update you with as much detail as possible until that time.