By Trevor Ammundsen.
The Mercury Bay Business Association has prepared and is working on an aspirational project which aims to improve aspects of the lives of residents in the Mercury Bay region. This project is focused on a number of areas of aspiration one of which is significant improvement to access to this region.
Access: Improvements to access are primarily focused on roads although there is also a project focused on making our airstrip runway suitable in all weather. But more about that later. To help focus our efforts to improve roads, a report was prepared that looked at work that would be required to ensure availability of our State Highway access and its suitability for purpose. We have not yet looked at the local road situation.
The issues regarding availability will be well known to most readers; the flooding hot spots that year after year entrap us and the one way bridges that constantly irritate us. We need to have these eliminated, not only to assist us with our travel requirements but also to give tourists the confidence that they can not only come here, but they can also leave.
Overdue for State Highway standards: The issue of suitability for purpose means that State Highway 25 must be at State Highway standard, not regional goat track. This means a general program of smoothing out corners, constructing passing lanes, eliminating areas that are prone to slippage and so on.
The ongoing work we are doing in the area of road improvement is by its nature a lobbying exercise. We cannot do the work ourselves, we need to convince NZTA, (New Zealand Transport Agency aka Waka Kotahi) who are responsible for the State Highways, that our projects are worthwhile and should proceed. To that end we have had significant assistance from our local MP, Scott Simpson, and Nationals Road spokesman. With their backing we have presented our report with a list of priorities to the District NZTA team who are currently considering how much of a $6 Billion Government Fund for Regional Roads they can secure and invest.
Priorities: The priorities we have submitted are Hikuai (Flooding and One Way Bridge), Wade Road (Flooding), Tohetea Bridge (Flooding and One Way Bridge), Hot Water Beach Road (Flooding) and finally the replacement of the one-way bridges at Tairua, Coroglen and over the Akeake Stream. This may look like an ambitious shopping list, but it is all well overdue and is focussed on availability only. Hopefully there is significant allocations for our region, after all it is about 60 years since the last great improvement.
Editors note: Improvement for Tohetea recognised - one small step
In a memo dated 11 June, 2023 and titled, Subject: SH25 – Flooding issue near Tohetea Stream Bridge, Wharekaho It stated:
“Waka Kotahi understands that the existing Tohetea Stream Bridge will need to be lifted and replaced with a 2-lane bridge. Given the risk of sea inundation or backflow hindering water discharge during storm surges, it will be necessary to involve Iwi and Coastal Management and conduct a first-principle catchment discharge analysis before upgrading the bridge. Waka Kotahi has included this improvement in the Resilience applications and waiting for the funding confirmation.”