State Highway 2 between Wairoa and Napier will be open around the clock from Wednesday (31 May).
This stretch of highway suffered the most destruction as a result of Cyclone Gabrielle, with damage to around 100 sites, including the Devil’s Elbow and Waikare Gorge bridge.
Following completion of the Waikare Gorge Bailey bridge, the highway opened to daytime traffic a fortnight ago.
Waka Kotahi Regional Manager of Maintenance and Operations Jaclyn Hankin says the road has been closed to night-time traffic since it reopened to help keep everyone safe.
“Our contractors worked incredibly hard to reopen the road to daytime traffic earlier this month, but we needed more time to ensure the road was as safe as it could possibly be for night-time traffic.
“It still looks very different to what it looked like before the cyclone, however, over the past few weeks, our contractor has installed guardrail, reflective cat eyes, safety poles and additional cones to make the section through Devil’s Elbow safe for overnight travel.
“We’ve also used the extra fortnight to complete strengthening work at Esk River Bridge on SH2, just north of the turn off to Taupō.
“Completing work at the bridge has meant the 30km/h temporary speed restriction has been lifted.
“Tomorrow night (Tue 30 May), crews will use the final night closure to reseal the road at Waikoau Hill where a major underslip site was repaired just before the cyclone.”
Ms Hankin says despite this progress, there is still significant work to do – most of which is dependent on favourable weather conditions and therefore, likely to be completed in spring and summer.
“In the meantime, work to maintain access and levels of service will continue throughout the winter months.
“There will still be temporary speed restrictions and stop/go controls in a number of places. Please be aware of the conditions, take care, don’t rush and abide by the traffic controls in place.
“Opening this vital connection has been a huge step forward in our cyclone recovery work and being able to extend the opening to 24/7 is another boost for freight and the communities that rely on this key connection between Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti.
“We want to reiterate our gratitude to everyone travelling this road for their patience – it’s been a trying time, and we’re delighted to take another step toward a return to normality,” says Ms Hankin.