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Progress Made in Planning for Short and Long Term Solutions to the Safe Reopen and Repair of Kairakau Road

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council has established the best and most efficient short term solution for the safe reopening of Kairakau Road is likely to be the build of a new section of road, around the slip.

The rural road is closed at approximately the 7.1km mark, following significant and unexpected road movement which occurred as a result of the deluge of the heavy rain that fell across the Hawke’s Bay region last week.  

Investigations on the state of the road are continuing however indicate that the slip is ongoing, and its impact may be too great to allow for the road to be repaired on its current site, either in the short or long term.

Council has engaged specialist geotechnical drilling equipment to achieve a thorough understanding of the perimeters of the issue, and what options exist to resolve it. This work will confirm the need to build a new section of road around the slip or may show that some of the existing road platform/base is stable enough to be used going forward.

Council is continuing to focus on immediate short term access solutions for school children, medium-term temporary access for light vehicles and long term permanent reinstatement of a two lane road. Now, Council is working with land owners and its funding partner (Waka Kotahi) to put plans in motion for these options.

“We appreciate that Kairakau Road is an important route for many of our residents and that the impact of the road closure is severe,” said Monique Davidson, Chief Executive of the Council.

“Although the build of the new, temporary lane will take some time, our teams have established that this is the best and most efficient option given the circumstances.

“We understand that the community may feel frustrated and I want to assure you that our teams are treating this as a priority.

“The safety of our roads, and the welfare of our residents is what is most important above all else.

“Our teams are in touch with community groups and organisations, including Elsthorpe School and emergency services, and vulnerable residents to ensure no one’s wellbeing is compromised at this time.”

Council has worked with Elsthorpe School to find a solution to its school bus route which has been affected by the slip, with short term access solutions being worked on with landowners.  

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council is responsible for 1,264 kilometres of formed roads, with much of the land transport activity’s focus guided by the adopted 2020 Land Transport Strategic Framework with the stated vision to ‘deliver safe, reliable and lasting road assets that connect our people and places and allow our district to prosper.’

Council develop and maintain a 10-year forward work programme to ensure effective and efficient service level delivery in line with requirements set heavily by Waka Kotahi NZTA who fund 60% of the activity.

The programme is based on historical records, recent work practices, along with visual inspections of the network, with $11 million budgeted for all activities across the network of roads per year as part of the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan.

Kairakau Road has been affected by ongoing slow movement over a substantial period of time, with a known slump worsening in recent weeks.

Major repairs had been scheduled by Council to remedy the slump, which would have involved the excavation, restabilising and rebuilding of the site, however a new approach is now required in response to the significance of the weekend’s slip.

“Council was aware that maintenance of this section of road was required, and have been sealing all known cracks to ensure waterproofing as a temporary measure with major repair works scheduled to take place this summer.

“Unfortunately, we had no way of predicting that a slip of this significance would occur,” said Ms Davidson.

“Current investigations indicate that the severity of the slip and required rebuild may have occurred even if the planned repair works had been already made."

Signed detours are in place through Mangakuri Road, Clareinch Road, Pourerere Road and River Road however road users are advised to take extra caution, as this route is less frequently used.

Concrete boulders are in place at the access points of the slip following reports of cars failing to stop.

A webpage has been set up at which interested parties are encouraged to visit to be kept up to date with the project’s progress.