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Long road ahead

01 roading

Reopening and reassessing Wairoa’s roading network remains a Council priority – despite significant damage to roads and bridges across the local network.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said safety is the primary concern and people need to please stay away from bridges and roads that have been identified as likely to collapse or further subside.

Wairoa District Council looks after 875km of roads along with 175 Bridges and culverts. Around 20 roads are still closed, or under caution or other restrictions, and three bridges are impassable.

Mr Little said the number of roads bridges and infrastructure damaged in Cyclone Gabrielle, and the subsequent heavy rain event is unprecedented.

“We know we have extreme roading and bridge issues to deal with, but we also have other roads and bridges that have sustained significant damage and where temporary fixes have been put in place but will require a lot more work and may not be sustainable as we head into winter.

“We need to remember that Cyclone Gabrielle is a national emergency with other parts of our country impacted. There are national, regional, and local demands on supplies, services and design work. We need to be realistic. Please understand that we will be pushing as hard as possible to achieve what we can but there will be limitations and there are no quick fixes. This is Mother Nature at its worst. No one is to blame for what has happened and the best we can do is to move forward together to rebuild our entire district – however, it will be a marathon, not a sprint.

“Our Council team and contractors are doing their very best, but we need to stress that our infrastructure has taken such a beating that total restoration will take a long time.”

Mr Little said a focus will be on future-proofing Wairoa’s roading network. Susceptible roads and bridges need to be fully assessed so we can provide solutions that meet environmental, climatic and usage needs, both for today and into the future. Where roads or designs are continually failing, we may have to investigate alternative options.”

There are four roads where access has been particularly compromised, with Willowflat Road and Kakariki Farm Road at Kotemaori and Papuni and Mangaroa Roads in the Ruakituri having all been severely impacted.

Three bridges are unusable and have been closed. They are Glenbrook (Waikare) Bridge on Glenbrook Road, Te Puna Bridge on Mangapoike Road and Te Reinga Bridge on the Ruakituri Road.

“We know that residents who rely on these bridges and roads will be severely impacted, and we thank you for your ongoing patience.”

Drainage and water tabling work is being carried out at the 3km mark on Papuni Road. This will enable access for work to begin on a larger dropout at the 11km mark. The dropouts on this road are still moving and this road remains closed with alternative roading options being considered.

Earth bunding, to allow surface water to run off, is being carried out at a major dropout on Mangaroa Road. This road will require significant work and repair options are being worked through.

On Willowflat Road, at the 11km mark, significant tree debris needs to be removed to enable the culvert to be repaired or replaced and a silt/slash control system installed. The completion of this work could be two weeks – weather dependent.

The Kakariki Farm Road has been opened to 4x4 access. There are significant washouts on the road and extreme caution is advised. A long-term repair option is being developed.

The Te Reinga Bridge, which was already under vehicle restrictions while awaiting repair, has now lost a pier and structural analysis suggests the bridge could collapse. The existing bridge is unstable and a health and safety risk and needs to be demolished. Council is continuing to work with Waka Kotahi NZTA to source a bailey bridge to provide temporary access. This temporary solution, if available, would still be months away and a permanent solution requires a full options assessment. Council will be meeting with the Ruakituri and Te Reinga communities to discuss the situation in more detail.

The Te Puna Bridge has a pier displaced and bridge collapse is also likely. A temporary solution to provide resident access is to develop a ford across the river. This work will be prioritised while a permanent repair for the bridge is designed.

Temporary access across the Glenbrook Bridge is being worked on and could be completed in around four weeks.

Mr Little thanked all those affected people for their support and patience. “Our aim is to reinstate access and then follow on with a full network assessment and long-term reinstatement that is fit for purpose. We know this will be a huge job, particularly as we hadn’t recovered from the weather events in March 2022. We have a huge job in front of us and while we understand people will become frustrated, we urge you all to please be as patient as possible while we work on our district-wide recovery plan.”

For roading updates please check the Council webpage and to report any further damage please phone 06 838 7309.





16 March 2023

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