The NZ Transport Agency has made some changes to the posted Saddle Road detour route through Ashhurst to improve traffic flow and safety, and is thanking motorists and residents for their patience and understanding as the adjustments are made.
NZTA Palmerston North state highways manager David McGonigal says the NZTA has made changes to the posted detour route to make it easier for motorists to follow and to reduce 'rat running' through the streets of Ashhurst.
"We're aware of some concerns, both from motorists who were having trouble following the posted route, and from the community who were worried about the large numbers of vehicles that were 'rat running' through their streets. We've responded by making changes that will reduce hold-ups for vehicles using the Saddle Road while also making it safer for Ashhurst residents by focusing traffic on the posted route."
"We appreciate these changes may cause longer waiting times at intersections for local residents and we're appreciative to the Ashhurst community for bearing with us while the town's roads are used as a major traffic thoroughfare."
Mr McGonigal said the NZTA was working closely with the Palmerston North City Council to implement these changes.
In particular, traffic exiting Saddle Road should stick to the Salisbury Ave route - it should be quicker as it now has priority so there will be no need for short cuts through the side roads onto Cambridge Avenue.
"It's important we make these changes for safety reasons because otherwise traffic will continue to take short cuts, posing a potential risk to local residents, including children from Ashhurst School"
The changes are as follows:
Mr McGonigal stressed that this traffic configuration would only be in place while the Gorge was closed, and would be closely monitored and tweaked if necessary depending on how motorists responded to the changes.
The NZTA is continuing to prepare for the next stage in the operation to stabilise the gorge slope, and will release a further update later this week.