Gorge Road opens without a hitch
The Manawatu Gorge has reopened without a hiccup, with traffic returning to the troubled section of State Highway 3 overnight.
The road was reopened in one direction about 4pm, and in both at 6pm.
NZ Transport Agency Palmerston North state highways manager David McGonigal said things had gone smoothly and he was relieved the full reopening of the route had reached another milestone.
The gorge will be open to traffic travelling from Woodville to Ashhurst 24 hours a day and in the other direction from 6pm until 8am.
It has been closed for all but six weeks since the first in a series if slips on August 18.
Mr McGonigal said the section of highway through the gorge remained a worksite, and the road was subject to closures or delays at short notice.
Contractors are working on the last sections of a bridge destroyed by a slip in October and Mr McGonigal hoped to have the road fully reopened within two to three weeks.
During the day travellers heading from Ashhurst to Woodville would still need to use the signposted alternative routes.
The cost of reopening the gorge has been estimated at $20 million.
Yesterday, the transport agency confirmed funding for a $4.5m upgrade of Saddle Rd, the key alternative route, to take place in the next three years.