Gorge slip continues to squeeze traffic flows
The Manawatū Gorge remains closed following further slips on the route during May. Traffic flows across NZTA’s Manawatū Gorge telemetry site shrank from almost 150,000 vehicles crossing through the Gorge in March to just under 4,000 in May.
The majority of vehicles counted in May were passenger cars. But this figure is not entirely surprising given that the telemetry site is just before the start of several Manawatū Gorge walking tracks and a few keen sports people are evidently still accessing the Ashhurst side of the area.
Heavy vehicle traffic is another story, with the number of trucks over 17m long dropping from 11,292 in March to just 75 in May.
NZTA remains positive that it will have the Gorge up and running as soon as possible, but has refrained from targeting an opening date for the road.
However, the slips are adding to the already high cost of maintaining the Manawatū Gorge and raise questions about whether there are better alternatives. A 2015 report by NZTA calculated the cost for four alternative long-term fixes for the Gorge.
- Re-route across the river and up towards the Saddle Road by the Te Apiti wind farm: $120m
- Re-route over the top end of the Tararuas (but involves moving more wind turbines than the above): $309m
- Build several bridges across the Gorge: $415m
- Put a tunnel through the Tararua range: $1.8bn
To put these costs into perspective, the soon-to-be-opened Waterview Tunnel in Auckland cost $1.4bn to build.
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