7 Jul 2012

Manawatu Gorge route closure 'frustrating'

7:42 am on 7 July 2012

Tararua mayor Roly Ellis says the closure of the Manawatu Gorge road for another extended period is extremely frustrating.

The section of State Highway 3 is expected to be closed for several weeks after rising river levels washed out a temporary section of road.

Rising river levels damaged the road.

Rising river levels damaged the road. Photo: NZTA

The temporary road was opened in May, providing access to the gorge route that had been closed for nine months after a massive slip dumped 370,000 cubic metres of debris on the road in August last year.

Drivers were forced to use longer alternative routes.

The Transport Agency says contractors are rebuilding bridges destroyed in the slip and the road will reopen once that's done.

The district's mayor Roly Ellis says the latest closure is another blow for retailers in Woodville who have been hit hard financially during the nine-month closure.

"All the excuses now that this only happens now and again have more or less gone out the window. It just shows how fragile the gorge is."

He says it's a frustrating situation and the sooner the route is open again the better.

Palmerston North state highways manager David McGonigal says the latest closure will not add to the estimated $20 million cost of fully repairing road.

He says it could in fact lead to the road being repaired faster than it otherwise would have been.

"It may give us some opportunity to speed up our programme because the machines on site won't need to work around the traffic so we'll be looking for opportunities to speed things up."