One lane of gorge opening next week

Last updated 16:54 24/08/2012

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One lane of the Manawatu Gorge road is expected to open for traffic next week.

The NZ Transport Agency said only traffic travelling east to west - from Woodville to Ashhurst - wouls be allowed to use the road between 8am and 6pm.

Two-way traffic, controlled by traffic lights, will be let through at night-time. All other traffic will continue to use the alternative Pahiatua Track and Saddle Rd routes.

Palmerston North state highways manager David McGonigal said a controlled reopening of the actual road, similar to the partial reopening of a temporary road in early winter, would only happen if weather conditions permitted.

It would mean about two-thirds of traffic using the alternative routes can now return to the gorge, he said.

"It will be hugely rewarding to have the bridge open to traffic. While it's a similar arrangement to what we had a couple of months ago, this will be on brand new, permanent infrastructure that will serve the gorge for years to come."

State Highway 3 through the gorge has not operated properly since a slip about 1km from the Ashhurst end on August 18 last year.

It has been closed since then, bar three days last August and six weeks in May and June.

Mr McGonigal said a full reopening was a matter of weeks away.

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- The Dominion Post

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