Meet­ing hears gorge op­tions

The Napier Mail - - FRONT PAGE - MIRI SCHROETER

The peo­ple of Woodville have de­manded cost and tim­ing de­tails of the 13 al­ter­na­tive routes to the Manawatu¯ Gorge.

About 300 peo­ple gath­ered at a meet­ing in the town on Tues­day to dis­cuss the op­tions, re­vealed by the NZ Trans­port Agency.

The gorge has been closed since April, af­ter ex­ten­sive rock­fall blocked the road, and in July the trans­port agency an­nounced the road will be closed in­def­i­nitely.

Op­tions in­clude build­ing a viaduct through the gorge and a par­tial tun­nel.

The op­tions range from 6 kilo­me­tres to 19km in length.

The clo­sure of State High­way 3 through the gorge has hit Woodville par­tic­u­larly hard as the town on the eastern side of the ranges re­lies on traf­fic flow­ing be­tween Manawatu¯ and Hawke’s Bay for re­tail spend­ing.

The pub­lic meet­ing at the Woodville Sports Sta­dium fol­lowed a heated meet­ing in Palmer­ston North on Mon­day evening.

Peo­ple at the Woodville meet­ing were free to fire ques­tions at re­gional trans­port sys­tems man­ager Ross I’An­son.

Dean Fitzger­ald, who was at the meet­ing, said he was con­cerned about some route op­tions go­ing through a gorge that was prone to more slips.

In Septem­ber, the trans­port agency pre­dicted some slips could be 170 times larger than the two slips that closed the gorge in April. The agency is aim­ing to have the new route fin­ished within four years.

Another con­cern was time and costs of each op­tion were not yet avail­able, but I’An­son said the op­tions would be nar­rowed down and cost­ings would be es­ti­mated by the mid­dle of this month.

Tararua District mayor Tracey Col­lis said it was great news that each al­ter­na­tive route passed through Woodville. ‘‘It just takes that added stress off busi­nesses.’’

MUR­RAY WIL­SON/ STUFF

Woodville res­i­dents at­tended a meet­ing to find out about the 13 al­ter­na­tive op­tions to the Manawatu¯ Gorge.

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