State Highway 2 between Wairoa and Napier reopened to traffic yesterday morning.
A blessing was held on Saturday to mark the completion of the Bailey bridge at Waikare Gorge with representatives from Ngāti Pāhauwera and Maungaharuru-Tangitu Trust, with the full route opening to the public at 7am on Sunday.
Associate Minister of Transport, Kiri Allan said the road was a lifeline for the communities who live alongside State Highway 2 and restoring those connections had been a key priority for the Government following the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle.
“That’s why one of the first things we did following the cyclone was to top up the National Land Transport Programme fund by $250 million for these kinds of works,” said Ms Allan.
“The stretch of road between Wairoa and Napier will reopen to the public almost three months to the day since the cyclone first struck the region. The Waikare Bailey bridge replaces the existing bridge that was washed away in February and is one of 11 Bailey bridges the Government has committed to building in its plan to reconnect cyclone affected communities.”
Cyclone Gabrielle caused damage to almost 100 sites on this stretch of highway, including burying Devil’s Elbow in under two metres of silt, destroying the bridge over Waikare Gorge and cutting off the communities of north and south of Waikare Gorge.
“It’s been a bloody tough few months for these communities and we’ve been focused on restoring that access as quickly and as safely as we can to ensure local communities, whanau, freight, farmers, businesses, and tourism can be reconnected as soon as possible,” the Minister said.
“I’d like to acknowledge the hard work and patience of everyone involved in getting us to this point, in particular the local roading crews who have helped to ensure this road has reopened ahead of schedule. We know the closure has been incredibly frustrating and has had a significant impact for many people,” she said.
The section between Aropaonui Road through to just north of Waikare Gorge will initially be closed at night (open daily between 7am and 6pm), while roading crews will continue working on further repairs to SH2 in the weeks and months to come.