All state highways reopened in East Coast and Hawke’s Bay following Gabrielle

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 16, 2023

All state highways on the East Coast and Hawke’s Bay have reopened following Cyclone Gabrielle.

It is a key milestone in the recovery from the cyclone, with the highways in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti now open following completion of the Hikuwai Bailey bridge.

At 85 metres, the Hikuwai Bailey bridge is the longest Bailey bridge in the post recovery and replaces the Hikuwai no.1 bridge, north of Gisborne that collapsed during Cyclone Gabrielle.

The bridge is one of 11 Bailey bridges the Government committed to building to reconnect cyclone affected communities.

“This is a significant milestone in the ongoing recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle, marking the final stretch of State Highway on the East Coast and in Hawke’s Bay to be reopened, four months on from the cyclone,” said Associate Transport Minister Kiri Allan.

“It’s a huge day for the mighty East Coast. This highway is a lifeline for residents of Tokomaru Bay, Waipiro Bay, Te Puia Springs and other communities along SH35 to Gisborne and residents have suffered over the past few months. While a locally-built bypass road has allowed some traffic to move through, travel has been limited, impacting communities.”

Allan said the new Bailey bridge will restore connectivity and improve travel times on this stretch of highway for local communities, whānau and businesses while a long-term solution is investigated.

The opening follows the completion of the Waikare Gorge Bailey bridge on State Highway 2 last month, reconnecting Wairoa and Napier.

“We know the last four months have been really tough for many communities and the Government has been focused on restoring access along State Highway 35 and other critical routes as quickly as possible,” Allan said.

“We’ve topped up the National Land Transport Fund by $250 million to cover the cost of emergency repairs and have earmarked a further $275 million for this work in Budget 2023.”

The community-led bypass road opened in March to temporarily replace the washed out Hikuwai no.1 bridge.

“SH35 is a lifeline for whānau working and living on the coast. We need to ensure more resilience is built into the future of this network.”

In Budget 2023, the Government committed $140 million over the next seven years to fund a pipeline of low cost low risk resilience works on local roads. A further $279 million has been set aside for resilience works on state highways over the same time period.