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