Construction has now begun on the pier for a Bailey bridge in the Waikare Gorge which will temporarily replace what was washed away during Cyclone Gabrielle.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says the much anticipated work will enable people to access Tūtira by mid April. Currently SH2 from Tangoio to Tūtira is open to residents, stock movements and essential vehicles only at specified times and with extensive traffic management in place.
Waka Kotahi Regional Manager of Maintenance & Operations Jaclyn Hankin says a huge effort has gone into getting to this point.
“A big thank you to our contractors who are leading the work on the ground, and to WSP who’ve designed the Bailey bridge.”
A karakia took place last Monday, with representatives from Ngāti Pāhauwera and Maungaharuru Tangitū Trust leading the blessing on each side of the Waikari Awa.
Ms Hankin says Waka Kotahi is focussed on restoring access for people between Wairoa and Napier, with the road expected to re-open with restrictions by the end of May, depending on weather.
“We understand how critical this route is to the region, and we’ll re-open the road as soon as it can be used safely, but the scale of the damage is significant and there’s a lot of work still to be done. Between Bay View and Wairoa there are still approximately 98 sites to repair and the majority of these are underslips. There are 23 sites where a lane is impacted, and this is not a quick fix. We also don’t yet have a full view of the damage as some areas are still covered in silt.
“There is a lot of damage to repair around Tūtira and the Devil’s Elbow. There are numerous drop outs, shoulder repairs and surface repairs required as well as silt clearing, drain clearing and waste carting to be done.
“Our contractors are coordinating abseilers to help with slip stabilisation and the removal of large boulders. Everyone is working as quickly as they can to get this key lifeline restored.”
While the immediate response to the cylone is still being prioritised, Waka Kotahi staff are addressing the need for an urgent long-term recovery process, using a region specific approach.
‘We’ve started some early thinking on how this will work, acknowledging that collaboration with local government, iwi, communities and partners is critical,” says Ms Hankin.
Drivers are still being urged to check Journey Planner(external link) before trips as roads are vulnerable to closures at short notice in wet weather, and repair works may cause delays and road closures at times.