The mayor of Ruapehu is eagerly waiting for a report on the State Highway 4 slip which will detail the amount of damage to the hillside and possibly how soon a temporary fix is able to occur. Abe Leach reports.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) last week announced crews had been able to begin work on the State Highway 4 slip after being limited to drone assessments due to the unstable ground.
The slip on October 2 destroyed a large section of the road, forcing its closure.
Ruapehu mayor Don Cameron said NZTA was pulling out all the stops to try to reinstate the road.
"They've got diggers on site and what they'll be able to do is to de-water the area.
"There's a heck of a lot of water that's appeared and that's what they call a greasy-back.
"What they're hoping to do is divert that water away to quickly drain it and if that can be done the aim is to reinstate a double lane as quickly as possible, but it may have to be shut at night-time while the ground is still a bit shaky."
Cameron said he was hopeful the NZTA report on the slip would be provided soon.
"We'll probably have a better idea next week or the week after where [NZTA] will be able to say a timeline and say we think it's stablised.
"Just as long as don't have any more earthquakes, there's no doubt the two earthquakes we had earlier in the year did shift that."
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The mayor said it would be "absolutely ideal" to have the road open before Christmas but that it probably wasn't possible from a practical point of view.
"Our assumption is that it won't be open by Christmas simply because of the amount of engineering and digging that's going to have to be done to get a stable surface."
Cameron said crews will also start fixing dropouts on SH4 from Upokongaro as part of the work.
In the meantime Whanganui River Rd is being promoted by Ruapehu District Council, Visit Ruapehu, and Whanganui & Partners as the best detour route for daily travel and tourists. Heavy vehicles are advised to use the State Highway 1.
Although the slip has created a divide on the State Highway, the same can't be said for Raetihi with the township continuing to band together in the face of adversity.
Raetihi Promotions Charitable Trust chairman and Angel Louise Cafe operator Gary Griffin-Chappel said the slip had been the catalyst to bring the town closer together.
"This town has a number of different groups, committees and trusts within it, and although there have been previous attempts to bring those together and get them to communicate and work together better, it's never really taken off.
"This has been a significant change where there's been a lot more collaboration between the groups with a recognition we need to work together to get through this."
Griffin-Chappel said Raetihi has been pushing for revitalisation for around 20 years, but projects had never gained traction.
"Obviously you need everybody in the town to agree on what the town wants to be, and that is now changing."
It's expected a website to promote the township will be completed next month.
Griffin-Chappel said stories had been going around town that there could be one lane open before Christmas, but said he didn't want to see repairs rushed.
"As much as we'd love to see something happen before Christmas, it needs to be done in a safe way that encourages people to be safe when they're driving on it."
An update from NZTA is expected shortly.