The Waikare Gorge safety realignment project has been identified as an important project on State Highway 2 (SH2) to make it safer and less likely to suffer closures. It also is seeking to become more accessible, by making travel times through the route more consistent for drivers and less likely to suffer from delays. This project is part of a package of projects in the Tairāwhiti region that have been identified for enabling economic growth in the region.
The 2018 Government Policy Statement on Land Transport (GPS 2018) supports the economic development of regional New Zealand by increasing the focus on developing safe and resilient transport connections to support freight and tourism.
Government Policy Statement on land transport (GPS)(external link)
The ability to fully-realise the region’s economic potential is dependent on an efficient and reliable roading network to major ports and markets.
The roading network in Tairāwhiti has a range of challenging natural environments which have been subjected to repeated serious weather events. To support economic development of the region, Tairāwhiti will need to go further than simply addressing the need for renewal and repair – it also needs to invest in improvements to its existing network that will support its economic action plan.
The Tairāwhiti Programme Business Case (PBC), approved in September 2017, was funded through Regional Economic Development funds in response to the Tairāwhiti Economic Action plan. The geographical scope of this PBC included the journey on SH2 between Napier and Ōpōtiki. The Waikare Gorge was identified as a key pinch point on that journey. It was seen by stakeholders as a project that could deliver a significant contribution to the programme outcomes.
The problems that are identified in the PBC are:
- Safety: the unforgiving nature of terrain combined with typically long journeys and poor driver behaviour is resulting in high personal safety risk.
Resilience: due to relative isolation and a lack of viable alternatives, when transport infrastructure is closed there is significant impact on communities and economic productivity.
- Access: the nature of access in the region constrains the ability to realise community and economic opportunities.