A HUGE slip closed the Waimana Gorge on Thursday and it could be weeks before it is cleared. Photo supplied

IT could be three weeks before State Highway 2 through the Waimana Gorge is re-opened.
Contractors are continuing to work to clear the significant slip that occurred last Thursday between Stanley and Fraser roads.

The New Zealand Transport Agency’s Bay of Plenty system manager Rob Campbell said contractors inspected the site over the weekend and yesterday morning and found the hillside was very unstable.

While there wasn’t a large amount of material on the road, the hillside above was very unstable and highly likely to fail again.

This meant it was not safe for motorists nor for NZTA to put its men and machinery in to clear the road at this time.

“There is around 3000sqm of materials above the road that is still moving and will need to be removed by drilling into the hillside and then blasting the remaining materials.

“We expect to start drilling by Wednesday. However, the weather plays a big part in what we are able to do and with the weather report forecasting more rain this may change,” he said.

A detour is in place via Whakatane, Ohope and Wainui and is clearly sign posted. All motorists are asked to use the alternative route and allow extra time for their journeys.

The road is expected to re-open in about three weeks.