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Council plans to fix ravaged road

After months of deliberation and consultation, a South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] committee agreed on starting to progress a remedial plan for the ruined section of Hinakura Rd near Martinborough last week.

The road suffered a catastrophic slip in June last year, after months of progressive decline. Since the slump, the road has been impassable, with an alternate route for residents currently provided over private farmland.

The SWDC Infrastructure and Community Services Committee meeting last Thursday recommended to the council that it advances a higher risk but lower cost repair option [than that previously preferred] to the risk assessment and preliminary engineering design and plan stage, along with a more sophisticated estimate of costs.

After the meeting, residents expressed relief a decision had been reached.

“No trucks, no business. If we don’t have a road, and we don’t have business, the community is lost,” noted one resident, adding other routes in over Admiral Hill were also failing.

“We are going to lose access. It’s terrifying. We need a solution. At the moment, we are just relying on the goodwill and generosity of our neighbours.”

The recommended option involves alignment of the reconstructed road through the landslide.

A report from WSP – an engineering firm advising on the road – said this option means constructing a road through the slip, ‘closely imitating what was existing on Hinekura Rd’.

“This option has the shortest alignment length compared to
all options,” the report said.

Thursday’s decision followed notification from Waka Kotahi that it would not fund the preferred, more expensive option of a new route above the slip that was estimated to cost about $14m, because the roading agency did not believe the road offered value for money from a road transport perspective.

Although SWDC could still pursue the preferred option, it would have to be funded by ratepayers to the tune of about $11 million, which could rise over time.

In robust debate, councillors present accepted the recommendation has a higher risk of failure than the option previously preferred. However, they expect a more detailed engineering risk assessment in the early design stages of the project will enable them to consider additional relevant facts at that stage.

The cost of the now-recommended option was previously estimated at about $1 million. The WSP report had given an initial indicative cost range of between $0.7 million and $1.2 million, a SWDC spokesperson said. This estimated cost will need engineered and consented plans before it can be firmed up.

The spokesperson said the costs have three components: Building the new road, repairing feeder roads, and ongoing monitoring and maintenance – and are subject to change.

SWDC general manager of partnerships and operations, Stefan Corbett, welcomed the decision.

“This recommendation to Council could allow us to move forward with a preferred option and progress our risk assessment as a priority,” he said.

WSP had put forward five possible options, including building a new route.

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