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Update: Emergency works on highways across Bay of Plenty and East Coast

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UPDATE 9PM: State Highway 35 between Ōpōtiki and Gisborne is now closed. SH35 at Motu River has collapsed along the centre line this evening with the eastbound lane falling into the river.

Traffic had been reduced to a single lane due to the large crack in the road since Monday 18 July.

The detour for vehicles (except over-dimension vehicles) is State Highway 2 through Waioeka Gorge, but Waka Kotahi advises caution. Traffic is reduced to a single lane due to an underslip 7km west of Matawai.

This updates the information in the traffic bulletin below.


6:21PM: Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is advising drivers on the East Coast and Bay of Plenty that slips and washouts on the state highway network are restricting access for heavy vehicles.

The state highway network has been hit hard by the recent severe weather with slips, drop outs and flooding in a number of locations. Crews are actively monitoring the network to ensure the safety of all road users.  

The situation at each of the emergency works sites around the East Coast and Bay of Plenty is evolving.

As of 5pm Wednesday 20 July, the following is impacting heavy vehicles:

State Highway 35 between Ōpōtiki and Gisborne

At Motu River bridge

  • West of the Motu River bridge, SH35 is reduced to a single lane to keep traffic a safe distance from the river due to cracking along the eastbound lane immediately adjacent to the river bank.
  • All heavy vehicles including over-weight and over-dimension vehicles are unable to use this route until further notice.

At Kopuaroa (north of Te Puia Springs)

  • Due to the risk of truck roll-overs and the narrow lane width at Kopuaroa, SH35 will be closed to heavy vehicles with trailers after 11.59pm Friday 22 July. Truck and trailer units travelling before 11.59pm Friday 22 July will need to proceed with caution through the site.
  • After 11.59pm Friday 22 July, heavy vehicles with trailers will be turned around at Ruatoria and Te Puia Springs. Heavy vehicles without trailers will be allowed through the site.

State Highway 2 between Gisborne and Ōpōtiki – at Matawai

  • SH2 is reduced to a single lane at the site of an underslip approximately 7km west of Matawai (on the southern approach to the Motu Bridge) between Gisborne and Ōpōtiki.
  • Over-dimension vehicles are not be able to access the site after 5pm Wednesday 20 July due to the narrow width of the lane. All currently permitted over dimension loads are to check with the Downer Gisborne Offices prior to leaving Gisborne in the North or entering the Waioeka Gorge from the South.
  • Heavy vehicles are able to access the site.

State Highway 36 between Rotorua and Tauranga – at Mangapouri bridge

  • This route is not suitable for all heavy vehicles. The alternative routes are SH2 and SH33 through Pāpāmoa and Paengaroa, or SH5 / SH28 / SH29 over the Kaimai Range.
  • The road will be closed to all vehicles from 10am Thursday 21 July to 7pm Friday 22 July.

With more rain forecast we encourage everyone to take extra care when driving, watch for hazards, adjust their speed and check our Journey Planner map before heading off so they know which routes are affected.

Journey Planner roadworks(external link)

Waka Kotahi thanks everyone for their patience and will provide further updates as works progress at each site.

SH35 is reduced to a single lane west of Motu bridge due to cracking in the pavement and the subsidence of the river bank.

Contractors are working to stabilise the bank with rock fill. With around 6000 tonnes of rock needed, it’s a huge job.

There is still movement across the site. Cracking is now around 40ml wide and running 100 metres long.

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