Final options for Gorge revealed

Shortlisted new options to replace the Manawatu Gorge have been revealed. PHOTO/FILE
Shortlisted new options to replace the Manawatu Gorge have been revealed. PHOTO/FILE

The NZ Transport Agency has today released a shortlist of four potential options for a new state highway route to connect the Manawatū, Hawke's Bay and northern Wairarapa.

State Highway 3 through the Manawatū Gorge has been closed since large slips caused major damage to the road on 24 April 2017 following severe weather.

Geotechnical investigations and long-term monitoring have established that the hillsides in parts of the gorge are highly unstable, and the gorge road is no longer viable as a safe long-term transport route for the region.

The Transport Agency has been working with the community and other key stakeholders in recent weeks to evaluate an initial long-list of 13 alternative options.

"We've been gathering valuable feedback on the initial long-list, and we're pleased to be taking the next step today, with the release of a short list of four options that will be further investigated," says Ross I'Anson, NZTA Regional Transport System Manager.

"The people of this region need a safe, resilient and reliable transport link between the east and the west of the central North Island. It's essential for the economic wellbeing of New Zealand and our communities, and with the gorge route no longer a safe option we're working with urgency to make it happen."

The Transport Agency will be gathering public feedback on the short-list until 25 October, with a preferred approach to be announced in December.

Mr I'Anson says the Transport Agency is encouraging people to provide their ideas and perspectives on the short-listed options.

"We know how important this connection is to local communities, and a very important part of the process is working with our communities to make sure we get the best possible transport solution for the region and the whole of New Zealand."

The shortlisted options were a new road corridor across the Ruahine Range north of Saddle Road and the Te Apiti wind farm, a saddle road upgrade, a new road corridor across the Ruahine Range south of Saddle Road, or for a new route south of the Manawatū Gorge providing a new road corridor which offers the most direct connection for travel to or from the southwest.

Mr I'Anson said a number of other options had been ruled out for a variety of reasons.

The Transport Agency is holding three open days in Palmerston North (today), Woodville (tomorrow) and Ashhurst (Friday) to discuss the shortlist with the community.

This will include information on the options no longer under consideration and the reason for removing them from further consideration at this stage.

People can also comment on the proposed shortlist through an online 'Social Pinpoint' tool (external link) , or via email.

Option 1: North of Saddle Road
This option would provide a new road corridor across the Ruahine Range north of Saddle Road and the Te Apiti wind farm.
•Cost: $350m-$450m
•Length: 15.7km
•Time to complete: 5-6 years

Option 2: Saddle Road upgrade
This option involves a major upgrade of the existing Saddle Road corridor to bring the route up to state highway standard.
•Cost: $300m-$400m
•Length: 13.8km
•Time to complete: 5-6 years

Option 3: South of Saddle Road
This option would provide a new road corridor across the Ruahine Range south of Saddle Road.
•Cost: $350m-$450m
•Length: 12.4km
•Time to complete: 5-6 years

Option 4: South of the Gorge
This option is for a new route south of the Manawatū Gorge providing a new road corridor which offers the most direct connection for travel to or from the southwest.
•Cost: $450m-$550m
•Length: 19.2km
•Time to complete: 6-7 years

- Hawkes Bay Today

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