After months of disruption following Cyclone Gabrielle, State Highway 2 will reopen between Wairoa and Napier from Sunday.
Work to restore access along the cyclone-damaged stretch of highway progressed faster than anticipated, with favourable weather helping to accelerate construction of the Waikare Gorge Bailey bridge.
Contractors have also been working on other damaged sites, including at Devil’s Elbow, as well as clearing landslips and debris, and other works to make the road safe.
The new bridge will be blessed by Ngāti Pāhauwera and Maungaharuru-Tangitu Trust on Saturday, before the entire route reopens to the public from 7am Sunday. The section of road will initially be open between 7am and 6pm with closure points at Aropaonui Road to the south and just north of the Waikare Gorge.
Waka Kotahi regional manager of maintenance and operations Jaclyn Hankin said the progress is testament to the hard work and commitment of everyone involved.
“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.”
Hankin said the road will look very different to the way it did before the cyclone. Traffic management will be in place to help keep everyone safe and allow crews to continue repairs to the road.