View online | Unsubscribe



Manawatū Gorge closure and alternative route – 2017 – a year in review

20 December 2017

Last week, we announced that we need a bit more time before making a decision on the new route for SH3 to replace the road through the Manawatū Gorge. We understand this may be causing many of you frustration and we thank you for your continued patience.

While we are disappointed we could not meet our original goal of announcing a preferred route before Christmas, we are continuing to work to ensure that the right decision will be made. This decision we make now will have implications for many years into the future, not just for the region, but for whole of the central and lower North Island, and the regional economy. It’s critical for the region that we get this right.

Perhaps now is also a good time to briefly reflect on some of the key events since slips closed the Gorge road in the middle of the year.

24 April
Two large slips close the Manawatū Gorge Road. Traffic is rerouted over the two alternative routes, across the Saddle Road and the Pahīatua Track.

Transport Agency contractors clear 15,000m3 of material from the first two slips, and 4000m3 from three smaller slips on Gorge Road.

3 July
The Transport Agency removes all contractors from work sites in the Gorge for safety reasons.

23/24 July
Large slip about 500 metres from Ashhurst end of the Gorge; 10,000m3, including large boulders, fall on the road.

Late July/early August
Then-Transport Minister Simon Bridges visits the region. The Transport Agency appoints a project team to investigate alternative routes for SH3.

Public open days in Palmerston North, Ashhurst and Woodville to discuss an initial long list of 13 options with the community; workshops with key stakeholders from local government, industry and iwi.

July-December (ongoing)
Work continues on upgrading the alternative routes, including:

  • A total of 34,400m2 of Saddle Road resurfacing, with an additional 3,630m2 of road patching.
  • Extensive maintenance continues on both the Saddle Road and the Pahīatua Track.
  • The realignment of a portion of Saddle Road commenced in October.
  • Resurfacing works in Salisbury Rd and Mulgrave St completed.
  • Speed cushions installed in Ashhurst side streets.

11 October
The options considered for the Manawatū Gorge Alternatives are reduced to a short list of four. This is immediately followed by another round of public open days and workshops with key stakeholders. More than 200 submissions are received from individuals and organisations.

Assessment of the four short listed options commences with site visits, geological, ecological and cultural assessments and other relevant investigations (cost, time to construct, network connectivity).

12 December
The Transport Agency announces it needs to do more work before a decision on the preferred route can be made.




The plan for 2018

So what next?  We have big plans for the coming year.  We expect to have enough information to make a decision on a preferred route in early 2018.  The extra information we gather now will help us to produce a more robust Detailed Business Case report which will assist in ensuring future works are more streamlined. 

We will again be seeking your input in 2018 – expect more open days in the coming months, in particular as we begin to progress more detailed design work on the preferred option.  We want to make sure that, whatever option is chosen, the final outcome meets the expectations of local communities, and supports regional economic development.

We will continue our upgrade work on the Saddle Road and continue our extensive maintenance work on the Pahīatua Track.  We are continuing work on preliminary designs for a temporary bypass in Ashhurst as well as property negotiations to make this happen. We are hoping to have the project ready to go in the first quarter of 2018. We are also continuing to investigate alignment options for Woodville and are looking to start work in the first quarter of 2018.

Finally, we would like to wish you all the best for the festive season and the new year.  Please remember to take care and drive safely during the holiday period.

In the meantime, we will continue to provide information on roadworks on the alternative routes, the Saddle Road and the Pahīatua Track, on our regional Facebook page



More information


For more information on the SH3 Manawatū Gorge 2017 closure, contact us at Or you can ring us on 0800 740560.

Visit our website