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YOUR WINDOW TO THE COMMUNITY
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2011
97 Taonui Street, Palmerston North Ph (06) 356 1570
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Not the usual: Backed up traffic on the narrow Saddle Rd, one of two detours for the closed Manawatu Gorge road.
Photo: ROBERT KITCHIN
By LAURA WALTERS
NOT SAFE FOR CYCLISTS
Truck and car drivers are not the only ones who have been affected by the
Manawatu Gorge road closure.
Cyclists who would usually use Saddle Rd as a hill training route have had
to find alternative roads. Bike Manawatu has advised its members to stay
off Saddle Rd and Pahiatua Track.
The increased amount of traffic using these roads has made it dangerous
for cyclists, communications manager Oiroa Kaihau said. The club has
been working with Palmerston North City Council and Manawatu District
Council on cycle routes in and around the region.
Mr Kaihau said the closure is a ''large inconvenience'' to cyclists and club
events have been moved to other roads.
Since Monday the stretch of Manawatu River 200 metres either side of the
Gorge slip has been closed to the public until the land above is stable.
There is potential for debris dislodged by earthworks to fall, putting
commercial and recreational river users at risk, Horizons Regional Council
habourmaster Evan Lloyd said.
After more than 100 days of the
Manawatu Gorge road being closed,
road conditions, traffic hold-ups and
wear and tear on cars is taking its
toll on Saddle Rd travellers.
State Highway 3 through the
Manawatu Gorge was closed on
August 19 after a major slip, and
has only been open for three days
On October 17 torrential rain
brought down 20,000 cubic metres
of spoil onto the road, further
hindering cleanup efforts.
For the past three months road
users have been pounding roads
that were not meant for this much
traffic, and the cracks are showing.
The NZ Transport Agency has
picked up the responsibility of
maintaining Saddle Rd and making
running repairs as necessary. Three
slow-vehicle bays are being created.
Sue Emeny drives over Saddle Rd
every day to work in Palmerston
She said the trip was dreadful .
It s just getting so rough.
She was spending an extra $20 a
week on petrol, and adding more
than two hours to her travel time
Ms Emeny said the dirt from the
roadworks and gravel was leaving
her car too dirty to warrant cleaning
it.She has been avoiding the road
when she did not need to use it,
especially at night.
The worst of it for me is that I
don t make any extra trips over.
I use to come to Palmy on a
Saturday to do some shopping, or
meet my daughter.
There had been some very care-
People are passing when I prob-
ably wouldn t.
But Ms Emeny said she had been
lucky so far, and had not fallen
victim to a shattered windscreen, or
worn out tyres.
But the road was taking a toll on
her car -- she would find out just
how much when it went in for a
Sales manager Clint Humphrey
has not been as lucky.
He drives over Saddle Rd every
second day for work and had to have
his windscreen replaced after stones
from the road made two large chips.
I got one big chip, and then about
a fortnight later I got another one.
The trucks pull all the gravel off
the roads when they go around the
Then the cars flick them up.
Mr Humphrey has also noticed
the inside of his tyres wearing down
from driving around sharp corners
on the rough road.
The Saddle Rd route only added a
small amount of time onto Mr
Humphrey s trip each way if he got
a good run, but it felt a lot longer.
It sure as hell seems a lot longer
by the time you get to the other side
. . . especially if you re behind a
truck, he said.
But Mr Humphrey had found
other road users to be incredibly
Smith & Smith Glass Palmerston
North manager Richard Mainwar-
ing said there had been a lot more
windscreen repairs for vehicles
which cross Saddle Rd.
But overall they were quieter
than usual for this time of year.
We ve usually got a lot of work
through from the Gorge.
People go faster through the
Gorge which throws up more stones,
and rocks fall on people s cars, Mr
Road Transport Association cen-
tral area executive Tom Cloke said
Saddle Rd is showing severe
The industry had no choice but to
pass on the costs incurred due to the
Gorge closure, but they were trying
to avoid this where possible.
We re thankful for being able to
use that road.
The Saddle Rd route would be a
better road because of the increased
maintenance, he said.
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