Updated: Aug 8
Good news from Community Board and TCDC on local roading issue.
Complied by Pauline Stewart.
Activity ramps up on SH25A rebuild from Waka Kotahi news July 27
Momentum is building at the summit of State Highway SH25A where work to build the bridge reconnecting Coromandel communities is well underway.
Recently, a 100-tonne crane and 100-tonne piling rig have been brought up to the eastern side of the site. They are set up ready for the main bridge construction to begin next week at what will become the eastern abutment of the bridge.
The first step will be to wind in the seismic casings for the piles – the large tubular metal sleeve that provides unrestricted movement of the top portion of the pile under earthquake loading. These casings are being cut to length in New Zealand and progressively delivered to Kōpū, where they are being stored ready for use. Test drilling to determine the depth of the piles has already been completed.
Elsewhere on site, work continues laying more drainage on the hill above and below the bridge site, and stabilising access tracks with lime and cement so the machinery and rigs can be moved into position to drill the next set of piles. Staff numbers on site are building as activity ramps up and specialist crews are brought onboard for specific tasks such as piling, reinforcing, stabilising, drainage.
Off-site, the prefabricated bridge beams being manufactured in Hawkes Bay by Eastbridge are taking shape. With 15 of these to be fabricated, the team there are working seven days a week.
ROADING at the forefront of Mercury Bay Business Development
By Trevor Amundsen.
Mercury Bay Business Association has been working hard on its Development Vision for Mercury Bay. There is a strong understanding that the future relies on the local community (business and residents) to initiate progress and monitor development needs - working closely with local and regional government on shared aspirations and goals.
Improving Access high on their list
“We have a mountain range between us and the rest of New Zealand and the roading over this has been challenged over the past few years. We need to ensure access is permanent and reliable, be it by road, sea, air or digital.”
Three main areas of focus
Enhance roads for performance and reliability.
Eliminate flooding hot spots.
Replace one-way bridges with dual direction.
The following roads significant attention:
State Highway 25 A - 309 Road - Tapu – Coroglen Road.
These Flooding Hot Spots need to be fixed:
Wade Road – Whenuakite – Hikuai - Wharekaho (outside of Whitianga).
These one- lane bridge bottlenecks need to be two lanes and lifted.
Coroglen - Tairua Pepe Bridge (southern) - Tairua (northern) – Hikuai - Tohetea
“The Mercury Bay region has a mountain range between it and the rest of New Zealand. The roading over this range has been challenged over the past few years, culminating in the shutdown of SH25A for a period that is likely to approach two years; compounded by the shutdown of the Tapu-Coroglen Road for a period of approximately 9 months. This has severe effects on the region with most tourism outlets reporting revenue at a level that is 40% to 60% lower than pre-COVID levels.
Economically the Mercury Bay is dependent upon Tourism as our prime income earner. We are also a region that exports forestry, agriculture and fishery products. For all of these items a fit for purpose roading system is a non-negotiable must to have.
Our vision is that our supporting State Highway system (SH25 and SH25A) be upgraded to a fit for purpose standard and are available for use 99.9% of the time. We also envisage that the Tapu-Coroglen Road is also available for 99.9% of the time to serve as a back-up route for lighter traffic.
We implore the relevant Government Political and Ministry bodies to ensure this vision is incorporated in our National Infrastructure plan.”
There are two prime items of concern regarding the roading system - 1. Availability 2. Suitability for Purpose
The two things that challenge the roading availability are slips and flooding. Of these flooding is the most prevalent and destructive (in terms of availability).
Four consistent flooding hot spots that consistently effect access to Mercury Bay
SH25 – Hikuai The road immediately south of the one lane bridge at Hikuai floods too often, cutting off the townships of Tairua and Whitianga. It would seem that the stretch of road needs to be lifted. This could be done by building a new raised road alongside the current road. This would necessitate a new bridge which would ideally replace a single lane with a two-lane bridge and eliminate a dangerous set of bends in the road.
SH25 - Wade Road
The section of SH25 immediately south of Whitianga is prone to flooding which cuts off the town to the extent that traffic from the south could get close enough to Whitianga to see the town yet would have to back track through Coromandel and approach from the North to actually get there - extra 1.5 hours of driving to get you an effective kilometre.
Hot Water Beach Road
The end of Hot Water Beach Road where it meets SH25 is much lower than other parts of this road. It gives the appearance of having been built as a ford at some stage. This floods regularly (approximately 5 or 6 times a year) which locks in the residents of Hot Water Beach, Cooks Beach and Hahei and prevents visitors having any access. This could probably be overcome by lifting the road and building another higher, two-lane bridge.
SH25 Tohetea Stream This is on the northern outskirts of Whitianga just before entrance to Wharekaho (Simpsons Beach). The stream floods regularly and the walking bridge at the same level as the Highway is impassable during flooding. This prevents access from Coromandel, Matarangi and Kuaotunu to Whitianga. (The Informer published recently that Waka Kotahi has recommended in June this year that this be a two-lane bridge lifted above current levels.)
Note: This is only a portion of the Development Vision put together by a small team on behalf of the Mercury Bay Business Association. The current Development Vision - This is a living, active document being added to and adapted.
Contact Clare Tod, Secretary, for this document: email@example.com.
Good news from Community Board and TCDC on local roading issue
Peter Grant (local historian) was the first Public Forum speaker at the recent Mercury Bay Community Board meeting 26 July each speaker has 5 minutes.
Peter had already sent notes on Whitianga’s costal erosion history to all members of the Community Board and came to speak on two erosion issues that he saw needed urgent attention. Peter specifically stated that his aim was to speak out to protect what reserves we have left.
Peter’s first issue was to do with the section of the beach north of the HMS Buffalo historic site Cyclone Gabrielle had eroded the reserve which cut part of the pathway that extends from the wharf through to Mother Brown’s Creek. “At the moment we have a soft option repair which is like building a sandcastle to fill a breach in the great wall of China. A soft option there will not work as they next storm is going to wash it away and we will lose that continuous path along the reserve and it will encroach onto Buffalo Beach Road……We need to do it now or we will have no say in it.
Peter’s second issue was the Reserve down the end of Buffalo Beach with the big macrocarpa tree. A historical site where the Mercury Bay Boating Club put in the challenge for the America’s Cup. “The tree is the last buffer before the next storm threatens SH25 and at that stage we will again have no say as the Government will block wall it. In both cases, if we do not act now, it will be too late.”
He pointed out past TCDC references:
A) Current Proposed District Plan 23/24 shoreline management quote: “We will continue with this vital project to help us improve our resilience to the effects of climate change.”
B) The marine department approved the use of rock walls and groynes.
C) Cyclone Gabrielle – the Government approved any work immediately, damage done that affects our roading systems.
The good news: Chair Rekha Percival was able to respond to Peter’s plea by referring him to the plan published by TCDC for the Buffalo Beach ‘Shark Bite’ (taken from TCDC website 12 July)
“Our Council has started the resource consent process with Waikato Regional Council to extend the rock wall at Buffalo beach near the public toilets, roughly opposite Halligan Road. Following this year’s storms erosion is approaching the Buffalo Beach Road in what locals are calling the ‘shark bite’. The plan is to extend the rock protection about 30 metres north while gradually tapering into help minimise the ‘end effects’ of wave action on the end of the proposed wall.
The consent and resulting construction could take until the end of the year to complete.
Push-ups of sand may still be required until then to keep the erosion away from the road.”
Peter Grant -firstname.lastname@example.org
Roads - we wish
From Scott Simpson
Scott Simpson is the elected member of Parliament for this region. As this issue has a significant segment on ‘Roads’ already, we have included an extract from a letter written by Scott to a constituent who had communicated in writing to our MP on where. The National Party stands with the current roading matters.
“Our region is suffering badly as a result of the weather and roading issues. I’ve lost count of the number of businesses that have closed and jobs lost within our communities. Sadly I know there are more to come. It is the reason I have been, and will continue to be, vocal about the lack of urgency in remedying the situation to at least having SH25A and the Tapu- Coroglen roads re-opened absolutely as soon as possible.
Last week’s National Party announcement was about new highways and initiatives. I’m very pleased that it included a commitment to build the Takitimu North Link Stage 2 portion of SH2 in the southern part of the Coromandel electorate to address perhaps the most dangerous stretch of NZ’s State Highway system. That said, the announcement was not our full transport policy. There’s more to come.
Our issues in Thames-Coromandel district of the Coromandel electorate are about repairs, maintenance and resilience of existing roads. In fairness to the current government, they last week announced $76m for work on Coromandel road repairs and naturally, we in National support that. The money is coming from an already allocated massive $6 billion fund for rebuilding regional roads and improving local resilience in parts of the country such as ours. That money has been agreed and budgeted. To a degree, money is not the issue. My National Party colleagues and I have committed to keeping that $6b in place and that was made clear in the
I’m not a roading engineer but agree that many of the ‘pinch points’ are the result of road construction and engineering standards from a time long gone. Frankly, I doubt SH25A could have been built at all under today’s standards. It was literally bulldozed and dynamited over the range. The last significant roading infrastructure new-build in our region was the Kopu bridge as a result of John Key’s government getting done after decades of time-consuming traffic backlogs that held back the Peninsula’s economic wellbeing for so long.
SH25 was the last State Highway in NZ to be sealed and I recall my late mother saying every summer of my childhood that “they’re going to seal the road this year”… well, eventually they did, and the final parts were sealed in the early 2000’s.