Ash­hurst’s heavy traf­fic toll

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - JONO GALUSZKA

Days of peace and quiet may be gone for good for some Ash­hurst res­i­dents as the Manawatu Gorge clo­sure drives heavy traf­fic their way in­def­i­nitely.

Closed since April 24 af­ter slips blocked both lanes, the New Zealand Trans­port Agency an­nounced on Fri­day it was pulling con­trac­tors from the gorge af­ter engi­neers con­firmed a large area of rock face was highly un­sta­ble, with an im­mi­nent risk of fur­ther sig­nif­i­cant slips or rock­falls.

The dis­cov­ery has meant State High­way 3 through the gorge may be closed in­def­i­nitely and the Sad­dle Rd will bear the brunt of the pres­sure.

NZTA high­way man­ager Ross I’An­son has said work to up­grade the road would be done un­der ur­gency while long-term op­tions were dis­cussed.

‘‘The re­al­ity is that the Sad­dle Rd will ef­fec­tively be func­tion­ing as the state high­way con­nec­tion for this part of the coun­try for some time.’’

The Sad­dle Rd di­ver­sion takes heavy trucks and cars along Ash­hurst’s Sal­is­bury St.

Res­i­dents on the street had a com­mon mes­sage - sort it out, fast.

Sal­is­bury St res­i­dent Heather McCarthy said cars were speed­ing down Sal­is­bury St, or try­ing to get around the trucks by us­ing side streets.

‘‘They need more po­lice out here. There are kids that play on these streets.

‘‘It’s only go­ing to take one stray ball and peo­ple speed­ing for some­thing to hap­pen.’’

The road was not de­signed for heavy traf­fic, and any re­pairs had not worked well, she said.

‘‘The road is get­ting cut up. All they’ve done is put patches on it, and it’s al­ready been cut up again.’’

The com­mute home was much worse, thanks to ev­ery­one try­ing to get over the Sad­dle Rd be­fore traf­fic got heavy, Cameron McCarthy said.

‘‘It’s the quick­est op­tion to get through the ranges and they just have to make it safe.’’

Novena Jor­gensen said the noise of trucks all hours of the night ‘‘does your head in’’.

‘‘We just got used to en­joy­ing a life­style and we no longer have [it].’’

While the gen­eral traf­fic noise faded into the back­ground af­ter a time, the stench of cat­tle trucks waft­ing up the drive­way was harder to get used to, Jor­gensen said.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/STUFF

Novena Jor­gensen wor­ries about her son, Tar­rell Jor­gensen, 10, cycling on Sal­is­bury St due to the in­creased traf­fic flow.

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