The Tokomaru Bay community joined together yesterday to celebrate the completion of the SH35 Busby's Hill Realignment, which will provide more reliable access for the community after extensive closures a year ago.
Gisborne MP Anne Tolley joined Gisborne MP Meng Foon, NZTA State Highway Manager Mark Kinvig, and members of the Tokomaru Bay community to mark the end of major construction on the $5.7m, 1.3km realignment.
Hosting the proceedings was Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Nga Taonga Tuturu Ki Tokomaru, whose students had been helping out with archaeological excavations to preserve a waahi tapu site near the roading project.
Following a powhiri and a presentation from the NZTA’s archaeological team to the kura, a tree planting ceremony was held alongside the new road. Guests then tucked in for a hangi back at the kura.
Mr Kinvig says the NZTA was delighted to be celebrating the end of construction with the local community.
“We’d like to thank the people of Tokomaru Bay and the wider East Coast for being so supportive and hospitable throughout construction.”
“It’s been exactly a year to the day that the old highway at Busby’s Hill was closed for what became the best part of a month, and it’s phenomenal that just a year later we’re celebrating the opening of a new stretch of highway.”
“It simply wouldn’t have been possible without having the local community right behind us.”
Mr Kinvig says the project provides a safer, more resilient link that will better stand up to the East Coast’s often wet and wild winter weather, making Tokomaru Bay less vulnerable to a repeat of last year’s closure.
Mr Kinvig said Opus International Consultants, Fulton Hogan and J R Earthworks also deserved a big pat on the bag for getting the job done against such a short timeframe. He said the road had been open since autumn, but had now been sealed and substantially completed.
Mr Kinvig also thanked those who had parted with land to make the project possible, and Eastland Energy and Chorus, who worked closely with the NZTA to help the project proceed.
The SH35 Busby’s Hill Realignment is the second major roading project in the area in consecutive years, following the opening last year of the Goldsmith’s Hill Realignment under similar circumstances near Ruatoria.