30 Sep 2017

Huge rise in Saddle Road crashes after gorge closure

4:38 pm on 30 September 2017

With closure of Manawatu Gorge forcing traffic through the Saddle Road, crashes there have increased from one last year to 13 in six months.

Saddle Road

Saddle Road Photo: Google Maps

Slips and the threat of further slips have kept State Highway 3 through Manawatu Gorge Road closed since April.

The Transport Agency said there had been 13 crashes on the Saddle Road since then, up from just one in all of 2016.

Ten of those crashes happened when drivers lost control on bends.

Unhappy residents at a meeting in Palmerston North early this week forced the meeting to continue after an official tried to end it.

The agency has proposed 13 possible options for replacing the gorge road, but many of the residents were unimpressed with some options running through residents' properties.

An aerial view of the slip near Woodville.

A slip in Manawatu Gorge. Photo: Supplied / NZTA

The town of Woodville, where State Highway 3 currently runs, has seen a loss of business since the closure, while the increase in big trucks driving through Ashhurst has worried residents there.

A decision on a replacement to the gorge road is to be made by December.

Check out the Transport Agency's interactive map of the options to replace the gorge road:

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