Evaluation for gorge alternatives
GHD Advisory has been contracted to develop a detailed business case for an alternative route to the Manawatu Gorge.
The NZ Transport Agency announced on Friday that GHD would help evaluate the costs, benefits and viability of various options.
‘‘It’s important that we consider not only those options covered in the 2012 NZ Transport Agency-commissioned report on potential alternatives to the Manawatu Gorge route, but other potential options as well,’’ regional transport systems manager Ross I’Anson said.
The transport agency was in the process of compiling possible long-term options for a state highway route to get around the gorge and intended to choose a preference by the end of the year.
State Highway 3 through the gorge closed on April 24 after a large slip fell on the road.
Contractors worked to clear the road in the months following, but more unstable rock led to the transport agency deciding to close the road indefinitely.
‘‘The Manawatu Gorge project team is busy working on the development of the long list of route options which can potentially provide a long-term, resilient and safe connection,’’ I’Anson said.
‘‘The transport agency recognises the strategic importance of the east-west connection between the Manawatu-Whanganui and Hawke’s Bay regions, and we are com- mitted to considering input from everyone who takes the time to put forward their ideas and feedback.’’
In the coming weeks, a list of options would be announced, along with details of public open days for people to provide feedback, I’Anson said.
One idea from a consortium of Manawatu civil contractors could see the Manawatu Gorge reopen in two years.
The group wants to raise the gorge road by 15 metres and cut a safety zone to contain most future slips. It’s an option that would cost somewhere between $165 million and $195m.
The idea has the backing of the region’s mayors and Horizons Regional Council.
Tararua District deputy mayor Allen Benbow suggested tunnelling part-way through the gorge.
He said building a tunnel near the existing road would mean the state highway could be reused in parts that were not prone to slips.
State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge has been closed since April 24.