Just months after the closure of SH35 at Busby’s Hill during winter, the NZ Transport Agency has started work on building a new and more secure alignment for the road.
The $5.7m SH35 Busby’s Hill Realignment will bypass the vulnerable section of highway south of Tokomaru Bay that suffered a lengthy closure over July due to severe subsidence, causing considerable inconvenience for East Coast communities and industry.
The project was proposed for investigation in the 2009-12 National Land Transport Programme, but the NZTA has advanced the project due to the urgency of securing this important route.
The 1.3km realignment will be similar in scope to the Goldsmith’s Hill realignment near Ruatoria, which was fast-tracked and opened earlier this year in comparable circumstances.
“This project will be great news for Coasties who were affected by the closure of Busby’s Hill in July,” says NZTA Central Regional Director Jenny Chetwynd.
“It’s also great news for the region’s economy, as it will help to secure the route for truckies, farmers, and tourists.”
“July’s closure highlighted a problem that wasn’t going to go away, and this realignment will provide a long-term solution for the people of the East Coast.”
“We’re doing everything we can to get this project built with the speed and innovation necessary to get the new alignment in place before midwinter next year.”
Ms Chetwynd says the NZTA is grateful to the Gisborne District Council, local iwi and landowners, the Maori Trustee Office, Opus International Consultants, and Fulton Hogan, who have all worked closely together to get the project underway so soon.
She says the East Coast community and particularly local iwi and landowners have been very supportive and are all committed to seeing the people of the coast have a safe and secure road.
Ms Chetwynd says the construction site has been blessed by a local kaumatua, and children from the local kura have enjoyed the rare opportunity to participate in archaeological excavations to secure a waahi tapu site before construction begins.
“This project not only has economic benefits but also social and cultural benefits. The work will involve the protection of a native bush area and the excavation of a waahi tapu site that the local kaumatua, kura and community will be involved in.”
Ms Chetwynd says the site was eroding away with the road and that the project will provide an opportunity to preserve some of the area’s rich history.
The project is expected to be completed in June 2010, and should be open to traffic in time for midwinter. Construction is not expected to cause significant delays to motorists.
For more information please contact:
M 027 309 8725