The NZ Transport Agency is considering a range of options to allow for suitable walking and cycling facilities around the Manawatū Gorge.
“Walking and cycling facilities are key considerations for the Transport Agency as we continue to work through the best possible options for the new Manawatū Gorge route,” Portfolio Manager Sarah Downs says.
Hundreds of submissions have been received as part of the Notice of Requirement process for Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway project, with many from supporters of ‘Build the Path’, a community-led campaign calling for walking and cycling facilities to be included in the design.
Ms Downs says the Transport Agency will request a meeting with the ‘Build the Path’ group, as well as officers from the relevant councils, to better understand their concerns and to discuss the overall walking and cycling network in the region.
“Separate to the Te Ahu a Turanga project, the Transport Agency will also consider the future of the Saddle Road, the Pahīatua Track and the old state highway through the gorge,” she says.
“These discussions will consider pedestrian and walking facilities, including how they might be improved once traffic diverts back from Saddle Road and the Pahīatua Track onto the new State Highway 3 across the Ruahine Ranges.
“Any investment decisions will need to be made in the context of the consideration of the overall walking and cycling network in the region, which may identify alternative priorities.”
Ms Downs also confirms the Transport Agency is looking to fast-track the addition of walking and cycling facilities on the narrow bridge across the Manawatū River at Ashhurst, to ensure walkers and cyclists have a new, safe way to access the existing facilities at the Manawatū Gorge once the new road is open.
The Ashhurst Bridge is currently identified in the National Land Transport Programme for improvement in 2021-2024. As part of the engagement with local councils and the community, the Transport Agency will investigate the possibility of bringing this project forward.
“The current indication is that a clip-on path can be attached to the side of the Ashhurst Bridge to provide segregated walking and cycling access. However, this is subject to ongoing investigations and funding prioritisation,” Ms Downs says.
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