Holey Moley! Giant cavity takes out State Highway 29A


When NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi workers peered down a small hole on State Highway 29A on Friday afternoon – they discovered a giant problem.

“It was a 4 metre deep and 4 metre wide tomo or cavity – stretching at least 11 metres across the width of the highway,” says Acting Manager of Maintenance and Operations in the Bay of Plenty, Roger Brady.

“The hole was caused by the failure of a stormwater drain, which likely occurred some time ago. Effectively, water leaking out of pipes formed a kind of underground stream which led to the erosion under the road.”

The section of SH29A between Barkes Corner and Oropi Road Roundabout has been fully closed since Friday night, 9 February for repairs.

“Our contractors have worked around the clock to replace 38 metres of stormwater pipe – which has meant digging up the whole road."

“We’ve backfilled the trench and we’re now in the process of building the road back up,” Mr Brady says.

“Our team will continue to work into the night to get the road open to traffic by tomorrow morning’s peak.”

Road users need to be aware that they won’t be driving over the final asphalt seal but the road will be surfaced. There will be traffic management in place and a reduced speed limit of 50km/h.

Full night-time closures will be required over 2 nights on Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 February to lay a bit more pipe at either end, install manholes and connections, and reinstate the excavated areas alongside the road.

NZTA would like to thank Tauranga road users for heeding warnings about expected traffic congestion this morning. Delays were anticipated due to the sudden closure of SH29A, combined with a lane closure on Totara Street for Tauranga City Council road rebuilding work.

“We suggested road users avoid travelling this morning, work from home or use alternative transport if they could – and they listened. We wanted to ensure that anyone who absolutely had to travel could get through without extended delays. In the end there were around 20 minute delays at SH29A, which is similar to regular weekday peak hour delays,” Mr Brady says.

To help ease the pressure on the network, NZTA rescheduled planned chipsealing of State Highway 2 between Ōmokoroa and Bethlehem last night and tonight to ease congestion coming into the city.

We’d like to thank Tauranga City Council for their help, and the people of Tauranga for their patience while we complete the urgent repairs on SH29A. Traffic may be heavy again during peak times this afternoon but we’re doing everything we can to get SH29A open again for tomorrow morning.