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Sneak peek at gorge alternative

A computer-generated video flyover of the new route from Manawatu to Tararua is getting the thumbs-up at public information events and online.

The road is the so called “alternative three” to the Manawatu Gorge road, which remains closed indefinitely and is still crumbling in the Kerry’s Wall area.

The route was welcomed by the Road Transport Forum and others when it got the nod in March. Now, it has been given a name – Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatu Gorge Replacement Route Project – and can be seen in the video, which runs from the western entry of the closed State Highway 3 gorge route, across the Ruahine Ranges north of the gorge, and to SH3 at Woodville.

The exact route is still being worked on and engineers have been sinking bore holes to build up knowledge about ground conditions.

Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith said the video was great, but the road was too significant to be continue to be referred to as an alternative route, and there had been no consultation about the name.

Calling it a replacement road made it sound like a country road, he said. He wanted highway or expressway added to the title.

The video shows a road with impressively small gradients that is two-laned 90 per cent of the way.

He said the mayors of the region wanted work on the road to start earlier.

“They could start now,” he said.

His opinion was that it was worth exploring opening the Manawatu Gorge to one lane to relieve the pressure on big trucking.

The saddle wasn’t a bad road for small vehicles but a 16 per cent gradient was hard work and costly for trucks, he said.


  1. Can you also report on the costs, and who has bid for this large contract for construction works? I think a Road Transport Forum endorsement is too soon given limited options being presented – is there integrated rail, walking and cycle options?

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