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Retaining wall works at Hospital Hill in Taumarunui get underway this week

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A karakia marked the start of works to address slumping of SH43 Hospital Hill in Taumarunui last week.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Transport System Manager Mark Owen says early work involves improving the drainage of the site and drying it out ahead of a building a new retaining wall.

"SH43 is the only road to the hospital and a main water main runs under it. The road has been gradually slumping for some time. Our geotechnical engineers have assessed the site and determined that we need to undertake these works to avoid the road continuing to slump in the future," says Mr Owen.

The drainage works are expected to take about five weeks, subject to weather, and will be carried out off the highway, so will not impact traffic or pedestrians.

A new retaining wall, new road pavement and footpath will be completed in 2020. This will involve major excavation work and will affect the highway for a period of approximately three months.

Representatives from Ngati Haua iwi blessed the culturally significant site on Friday.

The site was historically a living area for Māori and is home to a Totara tree which has special significance, both past and present. The area surrounding the Totara has been taped off and no work will be carried out within a ten-metre radius of the tree to ensure it is not disturbed during the works.

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