Manawatu Gorge highway replacement to open in six years

Drive 16/03/2018
Photo: Newshub.

State Highway 3 through Manawatu Gorge will officially be abandoned and replaced by a new road expected to cost up to $568 million.

The Manawatu Gorge closed last April because of slips. There was no option to reopen the road due to continuing problems with slips on the road.

Joining Ryan Bridge and Lisa Owen on RadioLIVE Drive to discuss the option is Emma Speight from NZTA and for a trucking perspective Ken Shirley from Road Transport Forum.

Since the closure, Saddle Road has been used by commuters and freight trucks but that was never intended as a long-term solution for the area.

There were four options tabled to resolve the Gorge road issue, and NZTA opted for option three.

This option is between the Saddle Rd and the Gorge Rd. It will run from near the Te Apiti carpark western entry of the gorge, cross the Ruahine Ranges north of the Gorge, before emerging at Woodville.

NZTA describes it as the “safest and most resilient option”. Ms Speight said the new road will also have a shorter travel rime than the current Manawatu Gorge. 

The estimated cost is between $390-568 million, and is expected to open in 2024.

Listen to the full interviews with Emma Speight and Ken Shirley above.

Drive with Ryan Bridge and Lisa Owen, 3pm - 6pm Weekdays and streaming live on 'rova' channel 9 - available on Android and iPhone.