Waikato/BoP roads re-open but Coromandel tenuous

Most of the roads across the Bay of Plenty and Waikato are open but the situation in the Coromandel region is still tenuous says National Road Carriers Association (NRC) commercial transport specialist Ian Roberts.

“While most of the roads across Bay of Plenty and Waikato are open there are still hazards with roads being covered in mud and recently cleared of debris. The Kaimais has re-opened and, being a critical link between the Waikato and Bay Plenty, that means freight links are now restored across this key part of the network.

“The situation is still tenuous in the Coromandel region. The Karangahake Gorge only re-opened last night, connecting Waihi and parts of the Coromandel Peninsula with critical supply links to the Waikato and Auckland.

“As of this morning, the East Coast north of Opoutere through to Tairua and Whitianga remains closed, as does the Thames Coast Road connecting through to Coromandel.

“Authorities are working hard to reconnect these communities, and motorists are encouraged only to travel across this region if absolutely necessary as there are still a number of slips and road hazards to be cleared. Minimising travel across this region is a priority to ensure freight and other urgent services road access can be prioritised.”

Mr Roberts says trucking companies are ready to deliver supplies to places that have been cut off by slips, flooding and tree falls as soon as the roads are passable. Driver safety is paramount and trucking companies are doing frequent risk assessments on road conditions.

NRC Board member and owner of Morrinsville-based Orion Haulage Glen Mackay says while Waikato and Bay of Plenty access has been restored, the state of the road surfaces is very poor.

“Because we haven’t spent enough money on preventative maintenance unfortunately we now face millions of dollars being spent on restorative action. Where we could have invested $100,000 we are now looking at million dollar repairs.

“The Kopu-Hikuai is the perfect example of where there has been a steady increase in the amount of damage with potholes and road erosion happening over time. This has allowed water to get into the infrastructure and contribute to major slips and road damage. If repairs and maintenance had been a priority, perhaps we could have prevented the catastrophic damage that State Highway 25A recently sustained.”

“Due to the topography of New Zealand a lot of our state highway network is the on edge of hills and ravines where the roads will naturally start to slip and subside.  This means we need to get ahead of the maintenance to ensure our network’s resilience. Money needs to be put aside for long-term infrastructure planning and investment, good roading is critical and the time is well past for it to simply be used as a political football.”

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