It's just one kilometre of new road, but it's going to make the world of difference to local people and industry who rely on State Highway 35 running up the East Coast from Gisborne.
NZ Transport Agency Napier regional manager Rob Bramley has announced that work will start next week on a $2.5 million project that will re-align SH35 just north of Ruatoria.
Local people and industry were plagued by closures in August when subsidence closed the road for three days to all traffic and seven days to heavy vehicles. Mr Bramley says the temporary alignment installed at the time to restore access left the highway vulnerable to ongoing land movement.
“We are pleased it is now possible to move the highway to a more stable position that will ensure an acceptable level of access security.”
He says the August closures cost the region $600,000 or thereabouts in lost revenue, and made life tough for local people.
“This project will help ensure that closures through this unstable section of the network will not be an ongoing concern.
“This is huge for the East Coast.”
Mr Bramley says the new alignment through Goldsmith’s Hill (formerly Kemp’s Hill) will involve about 5ha of Maori land, and it is thanks to the co-operation and generosity of the trustees that the project is possible.
“Trustees Rea Proffitt and Terrence Kawhiti have committed to the works and to helping us achieve the best way to secure the highway network for the region and its people. We cannot thank them enough.
“Their focus on the importance of achieving route security improvement for the benefit of all coast travellers should be recognised and respected.”
Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon says he is delighted that the region will soon have the security of a sound highway network.
“This is hugely important for our community, our industry, farmers, forestry and freight operators. The August subsidence cost us all too much, and to know we will soon have a sound highway network is great news.”
The new alignment will be a big project, involving about 280,000 cubic metres of earthworks.
The project is expected to be completed by early February 2009.