Three months on from the devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle, State Highway 2 will reopen between Wairoa and Napier next Sunday (14 May).
Work to restore access along the cyclone-damaged stretch of highway has progressed faster than anticipated, with favourable weather helping to accelerate construction of the Waikare Gorge Bailey bridge.
While construction of the Bailey bridge has been continuing, contractors have also been working on a number of other damaged sites, including at Devil’s Elbow, as well as clearing landslips and debris, and other works to make the road safe.
Regional Manager of Maintenance and Operations Jaclyn Hankin says the progress is testament to the hard work and commitment of everyone involved who know how crucial this route is to so many people throughout Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti.
“Restoring this access has been an absolute priority for Waka Kotahi. Cyclone Gabrielle caused significant damage across the state highway network in Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay, and we’ve worked hard to restore access as quickly and safely as possible. This stretch of SH2 initially saw damage to almost 100 sites – the most damage suffered of any of our regions’ roads.
“While we understand just how important it has been to get the road open as quickly as possible, it’s been crucial to take the time to ensure the road is as safe and resilient as it possibly can be following so much damage.
“The road will look very different to the way it did before the cyclone and we’re still finalising what traffic management and restrictions may be in place to help keep everyone safe and allow our crews to continue repairs to the road.
The new Bailey bridge will be blessed by Ngāti Pāhauwera and Maungaharuru-Tangitu Trust next Saturday, before the entire route reopens to the public on Sunday.
“We know how much reopening this section of road will mean for people and we’re thrilled to be able to get it open earlier than expected.”