Mixed reactions to gorge road alternatives:
Ashhurst residents are keenly aware the selection of a new State Highway 3 route to replace the Manawatu¯ Gorge road will create winners and losers among them.
New Zealand Transport Association staff hosted an information day at the Village Valley Centre on Friday that drew a steady stream of residents from the town and surrounding areas to see details about the final four options for a new road.
They are an upgrade to the Saddle Rd, a new road north of the road, a new road south of it and a new road south of the Manawatu¯ Gorge. All options through the gorge have been ruled out.
The final choice is expected to be made by the end of the year, after consultation and assessments of the logistics involved in each. SH3 through the gorge is closed indefinitely and dramatic drone footage released yesterday by the transport agency shows the extent to which the hillside had fallen on to the road.
Farmer Stuart Bolton has set up his 102-hectare sheep and beef farm beside his father’s 260ha farm. The three northern-most options on the table would all cut through both farms and cut Bolton’s land off from the shared facilities he makes use of on the larger farm.
However, he feels progress for the greater good is more important than individual landowners’ concerns. He also knew the roading project was a possibility when he bought the land in 2002. That these routes were being seriously considered ’’didn’t come as a surprise’’, he said.
‘‘If you sit up in the hills there, you can see it will probably go through here. The more I thought about it, the more it was the logical path to take.’’
He is unsure what the family would do, but said subdivision was one possibility that could be considered, depending on details.
Ashhurst resident Richard Tankersley said: ‘‘If you ask how it’s going to affect the community in the short term, to get a longterm solution – if that’s four or five years away, that’s significant for the community and those people directly affected by the current route and bypass.’’
He believes the route south of the gorge would suit the majority in the long term, because the gradient and relative straightness would help traffic flow and heavy vehicles.
However, he is also keenly aware it would cut through the property of close friends, and cause them distress and upheaval. The more consideration and consultation about helping those affected, the better the results would be for the community, he said.
Karla Brighouse lives in the town and is worried about the effect of both the temporary diversion and the permanent route for residents. ‘‘It’s not just the corridors. One of the bypasses is only about 100 metres from our street, but no-one’s contacted us and today we still haven’t got answers.’’
Bob Sproull, who farms further south, towards Aokautere, had been notified two of the options now off the table would have cut his farm in two.
He was happy the final four leave his land untouched, but said no matter what, his family would have worked out the best plan and ‘‘it wouldn’t be the end of the world’’.
As with many on the west side of the Ruahine Range, he believes the southernmost option would serve the majority best, even though it cuts through more highgrade farm land than the others, something he would have preferred to avoid. ‘‘It enhances the city because you get another bridge. It gives direct acess north and east and connects with the potential ring road round the city. That would all interconnect.’’
Farmer Stuart Bolton’s land near Ashhurst would be intersected by three of the four gorge alternative options. Right, son Camden Bolton, 9.