Mixed re­ac­tions to gorge road al­ter­na­tives:

Manawatu Standard - - Front Page - KARO­LINE TUCKEY

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.’’

PHOTO: DAVID UN­WIN/STUFF

Farmer Stu­art Bolton’s land near Ash­hurst would be in­ter­sected by three of the four gorge al­ter­na­tive op­tions. Right, son Camden Bolton, 9.

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