Eval­u­a­tion for gorge al­ter­na­tives

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR HEALTH - MIRI SCHROETER

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.

PHOTO: WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

State High­way 3 through the Manawatu Gorge has been closed since April 24.

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