Labour announce plan to fix Manawatu Gorge

Labour has announced its plan to fix the Manawatu Gorge's transport woes by building an entirely new road.

It has accused the Government of dragging its feet to find a new route and says it's already identified one.

Andrew Little said the Manawatu Gorge route should be replaced as quickly as possible.

"It is time for people around here to have a reliable, trustworthy road that they know winter, summer, spring, autumn is going to be open, going to be workable, that they can use."

The Gorge has been closed since a slip in April and there have been further rock falls since then, underlining the need for a long-term solution.

"Right now there's no reliable road linking Manawatu and Central Hawke's Bay. We need a change."

Labour's preferred option is through the Te Apiti wind farm, north of the gorge.

"We've picked one that's got a good benefit-cost ratio, it's been investigated so far, it needs the detailed planning and a commitment to get it built, we will get it built."

Heavy goods vehicles have had to go through Ashhurst, and frustrated residents are happy with the prospect of peace and quiet.

Ashurst resident Lynn Baty said "Absolutely wonderful, great idea."

Albie Brown said "People buy out here to get away from the traffic. It can only be good for the community"

"I can't think of any better place than that place. Straight across over the river, shortcut, perfect,"Ashurst resident Alistair Hicks says.

A 2012 report concluded the Te Apiti wind farm route would be the least expensive alternative at $120 million, a tunnel through the gorge the most expensive at $1.8 billion.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges told Newshub today that Labour's plan was nothing new, as the Government's already committed to looking for the safest and most resilient route.

He said a report's due back by December.