Short-list for Manawatu Gorge alternative route released

4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineOctober 12, 2017

The NZ Transport Agency has released a short-list of four potential options for a new state highway route to connect the Manawatu, Hawke‘s Bay and northern Wairarapa.

State Highway 3 through the Manawatu 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.

NZTA 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, 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.”

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

I‘Anson says NZTA 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 short-listed options are detailed below. Information on costs, length and construction times are approximate.

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 Manawatu Gorge providing a new road corridor that offers the most direct connection for travel to or from the southwest.
Cost: $450m–$550m
Length: 19.2km
Time to complete: 6–7 years

I‘Anson said a number of other options had been ruled out for a variety of reasons, including construction duration, cost, and impacts on landscape, ecology and sites of cultural significance.

NZTA is holding three open days in the region this week to discuss the short-list 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.