SH1 Brynderwyn Hills Matariki reopening a relief for freight 

In News5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 21, 2024

Waka Kotahi has confirmed SH1 Brynderwyn Hills will reopen ahead of Matariki weekend, with crews in the process of finishing the remainder of the closure works.

The road will reopen to two-way traffic from 11.59pm Wednesday 26 June.

The Brynderwyns, a key Northern freight route, has seen road closures since February as NZTA carried out major repairs such as under and over-slips caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.

The route was due to fully reopen on 13 May, but this was deferred after two further significant slips on 26 and 30 April.

The closures have had a significant impact on freight operators and business, with diversion routes adding between 60km to 140km for road transport with increased costs being passed through to customers.

“We know that having this road open and more reliable will be a welcome relief to Northland communities and businesses ahead of the busy Matariki weekend,” said NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi project director Mark Ware.

He said it was a big job to create a shoulder space on the narrow and windy state highway, stabilising the hillside and moving an initial 180,000m3 of soil, followed by a further 60,000m3 as a result of the slips in late April.

“To get this amount of work done speaks to the skill and dedication of the teams involved. Thank you to the more than 900 people who have been involved with the project and our contractors who have worked day and night, in all conditions, to keep things on track so that road could reopen as quickly as possible.”

Ware said the work done to stabilise both the upslopes (above the road) and downslopes (the underside of the road) would not have been possible without a full closure. The huge amount of earth that has been cut away, the levels (or benches) that have been made into the hillside, along with piles and retaining walls will all help the road to withstand the next severe weather event.

The additional space that has been created next to the existing road means that should there be any future damage, crews can work on repairs without lengthy closures.

“It all adds up to a more reliable connection for Northland, which we know is so important for communities and other groups such as freight and tourism,” he said.

“While some ongoing works were always planned to take place after the full closure, we’ve made the most of the extended full closure to complete as much of this work as we can. When the Brynderwyn Hills reopen road users can expect to see downslope works including drainage and anchors being installed using the newly created shoulder for a period of two to three months. During this time, we’ll also be putting in planting along the corridor.

“We’ll also lay a fresh coat of asphalt on the full road width during the next paving season (in drier weather between October and December) which will require temporary traffic management and night works.”

National Road Carriers has welcomed the news for both the Northland community and the freight industry, many of whom have had to cope with lengthy diversions while the works have been underway.

NRC commercial transport specialist Paula Rogers said the fact contractors have had to move 240,000m3 of soil to create road shoulder space and stabilise the hillside illustrates the sheer scale of the job.

“It’s been a massive job, and not without its hurdles. NZTA and its 900-odd contractors really do deserve a solid nod for their continued hard work and efforts to get this road open and functional as quickly as possible,” she said.

“Road transport operators have been using diversion routes that added to their journey and increased the general cost of doing business, something which has been particularly tough in the current tight economic environment,” Rogers said.

“Being able to return to the more direct route will ease pressure for operators and businesses across the board,” says Rogers. “The timing of the opening for Matariki weekend is especially welcomed by Northland businesses who we know have been feeling the bite.”