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24/7 access restored at site of SH35 collapse near Motu River bridge

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Twenty-four-hour, seven day a week access will be restored to all traffic at the site of a significant collapse on State Highway 35 near Motu River bridge this afternoon.

SH35 has been closed near Motu River bridge since last Wednesday night (20 July), following severe cracking and a section of the eastbound lane falling into the river.

A temporary single-lane track was opened to light traffic on Saturday evening through to Monday morning, and again for three hours Monday night, before a decision was made yesterday to open the road between 6am and 7am and 5pm and 8pm on weekdays this week.

Bay of Plenty Regional Manager Maintenance and Operations, Rob Campbell, says the temporary single lane track has held up well to the demands of traffic and recent weather.

“This performance, together with an impressive effort by our contractors, has meant we are now able to provide 24/7 access to all traffic, including over-dimension vehicles with the relevant permits, via the temporary single-lane track from this afternoon.”

The temporary track will open to most traffic from 3pm, with access for logging trucks from 4.30pm. This section of SH35 is not an approved HPMV (High Productivity Motor Vehicles) route. Over-dimension vehicles with valid permit are now able to use the road again.

Contractors will remain on-site 24/7 and the temporary track will be under traffic light control with a 30km/h temporary speed limit in place.

“State Highway 35 is a really vulnerable part of our network at the moment and safety is the priority, so we will need to continue to re-evaluate access after any significant weather to ensure the road remains safe for use. This may mean the road needs to close again at short notice.”

People are encouraged to visit the Waka Kotahi Journey Planner website and the following social media pages for up-to-date information on the road status:

Work to permanently reinstate the road to two lanes continues, with contractors having successfully completed work to divert the river away from the riverbank.

“The water has receded far enough away from the embankment for the on-site team to start getting some of the big rocks in place that are needed to rebuild the collapsed section of road,” Mr Campbell says.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their patience, we know it hasn’t been easy, and ask that you continue to be patient with us for a while longer.

“We know how important State Highway 35 is to communities on the East Coast – to access necessary services, such as food and healthcare, to get kids to school, to run businesses and to stay in touch with friends and whanau, and we’ve been working incredible hard, alongside out contractors, to get that connection back up and running as soon as possible.”

Finally, Mr Campbell asks people to continue to take care, follow the temporary speed limit, allow additional time for their journeys and be patient, especially with other road users and road workers.

“Driving through the site faster than the temporary speed limit risks causing damage to the road and prolonging the works.

“It’s also a good idea to avoid unnecessary travel, where possible. If you don’t need to be out on the road, especially in poor weather, don’t be.”

The temporary single-lane track on State Highway 35 near Motu River bridge. Image taken today (Wednesday 27 July).

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