Massey Univer­sity’s gorge woes

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - What’s On - MIRI SCHROETER

An al­ter­na­tive route to the shut Manawatu¯ Gorge road, backed by six coun­cils, could af­fect Massey Univer­sity.

The univer­sity’s Manawatu¯ cam­pus could lose land, used by more than 400 stu­dents and staff each year, if the NZ Trans­port Agency opts to build a new high­way south of the gorge.

In­for­ma­tion ob­tained through the Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act shows Massey would seek com­pen­sa­tion if the most south­ern op­tion for a re­place­ment route to State High­way 3 is cho­sen.

The high­way, the main link be­tween Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu¯ , is closed in­def­i­nitely as un­sta­ble rock made it un­safe for pub­lic use.

The four short­listed op­tions are an up­grade to the Sad­dle Rd, a new road north of the Sad­dle Rd, a new road south of it, and a new road south of the Manawatu¯ Gorge.

May­ors from the Manawatu¯ Dis­trict Coun­cil, Tararua Dis­trict Coun­cil, Whanganui Dis­trict Coun­cil, Ran­gitıkei Dis­trict Coun­cil, Hori­zons Re­gional Coun­cil and Palmer­ston North City Coun­cil sup­port the con­struc­tion of a new road south of the gorge. They say it would of­fer the chance to build a sec­ond bridge over the Manawatu¯ River and help the pro­posed re­gional ring road.

Massey spokesman James Gar­diner said the pro­posed route would dis­sect about 100ha of flat land from about 365ha of hill coun­try.

‘‘It is our only re­ally suit­able sheep and beef hill-coun­try re­search farm of its type,’’ Gar­diner said.

The land was used for teach­ing about 400 vet­eri­nar­ian and agri­cul­ture stu­dents yearly, and post­grad­u­ate stu­dents and staff used it for re­search pur­poses, Gar­diner said.

‘‘Un­less mul­ti­ple un­der­passes were pro­vided to con­nect the two parts of the farm, the hill-coun­try part would be cut off and ren­dered un­eco­nomic be­cause all the build­ings and sup­port ser­vices are on the flat land.’’

The level of com­pen­sa­tion sought had not been con­sid­ered yet, and the univer­sity did not have a pref­er­ence for any other route, Gar­diner said.

A ma­jor re­search farm north of the gorge would be af­fected by two, maybe three op­tions around the Sad­dle Rd.

Fer­tiliser As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Vera Power said Bal­lantrae Re­search Farm, near the Sad­dle Rd, was an im­por­tant as­set for pas­toral agri­cul­ture and it had na­tional sig­nif­i­cance.

‘‘The fer­tiliser trial at Bal­lantrae hill coun­try sheep and beef re­search sta­tion has been in place for over 40 years.’’

It was the only hill-coun­try trial of its kind re­main­ing in New Zealand, Power said.

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