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Round the clock access restored in Manawatū Gorge

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The NZ Transport Agency advises motorists that State Highway 3 through the Manawatū Gorge is back up and running 24-7.

Regional Journey Manager Delaney Myers said that specialists had assessed the site, and it is now considered safe for traffic to use it around the clock.

However, the road past the slip site will remain at one lane with traffic lights and a 30km/h speed limit for the next few weeks.

“We need to keep the lane beside the slip closed until we install rockfall netting to provide extra protection to motorists. We also plan to install even more rockfall netting over the next year or two at several locations throughout the Gorge.

“We’ll have someone on site day and night to monitor the site and keep an eye on traffic flow.  We don’t expect any problems, but we want to be there to respond just in case.”

“While the slip has been a headache for everyone, we did take advantage of the opportunity to bring forward a few maintenance activities to reduce disruption over the next few months for motorists.  We’ve re-marked the road, cleaned marker posts, installed new cat’s eyes, cleaned out drains and inspected retaining walls and risk sites. “

Ms Myers praised the heavy transport industry and their courteous behaviour on the alternate routes. 

“Our team has been on this road many times over the last few days, and the behaviour we’ve observed has been outstanding. As well as using the slow vehicle bays, many truckies are also pulling over at other opportunities to let traffic pass. This has really helped improve traffic flow, reduce driver frustration, and keep people safe.”

Ms Myers says users of the Saddle Rd will have noticed that the improvements that have already taken place make it a far superior route to what it was in 2011.

“Once the Saddle Road upgrade is completed, we will have a detour route available that is a much safer, easier and quicker to drive.

Ms Myers also thanked the people of Woodville and Ashhurst.

“We know that every day the Gorge is closed, it affects the passing trade of local businesses, and after the Gorge reopened in the weekend, we hope Woodville had visitors dropping in to enjoy the sights and smells.

“We’d also like to recognise the forbearing folk of Ashhurst, who have had vehicles rumbling through their neighbourhoods in the middle of the night.”

“Higgins, MWH, Groundfix and the Transport Agency project team deserve a round of applause for getting the road opened so early, although we’re very conscious there’s more work to do. We’d also like to thank Stringfellows for managing the Saddle Road under challenging circumstances.”

Ms Myers also thanked the councils for their ongoing support, and for the use of the Saddle Road and the Pahiatua Track as alternative routes.

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