Emergency speed limits are due to expire on the bypass route since the closure of the Manawatu Gorge and the NZ Transport Agency has opened public consultation on proposed permanent speed limits.

Crashes along the Saddle Rd bypass route have increased by 88 per cent and emergency speed limits were put in place in January 2018.

The agency's director safety and environment Harry Wilson said that as the emergency speed limits were due to expire, NZTA's priority was to make the Saddle Rd a safer route.
Traffic volumes on Saddle Rd have increased from 150 to 5100 vehicles a day since the closure.

Before the closure there were a total of five reported crashes between 2013 and 2016.
Since the closure there have been 33 reported crashes, including one fatal and two serious injury crashes.

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"Because Saddle Rd is being used as an alternative route for the closed Manawatu Gorge, NZTA is managing and maintaining Saddle Rd on behalf of three councils," Wilson said.
NZTA is consulting on proposed speed limits either side of the length of Saddle Rd within the Manawatu district.

The Manawatu District Council (MDC) has consulted and set a 60km limit on its part of the route ( 2km length east of the Ashhurst Bridge) and it wants to permanently lower the speed limit to 60km on Saddle Rd from Ashhurst to Mangaatua Stream.

NZTA wants to make 80km the permanent speed limit for SH3 from Woodville to Woodlands Rd.

"Review of average travel speeds shows people are typically travelling 55-59km/h across the hill, so for most it isn't going to add significantly more time to the journey, but it will keep everyone safer including those who think it is possible to safely travel at higher speeds," Wilson said.

Public consultation on the proposed speed limits opened on Monday and will close at 4pm tomorrow.

Feedback can be provided via the online electronic form at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/saddleroad, email: saddleroad@nzta.govt.nz or phone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49) between 7pm-8pm.