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The million-dollar road

Cape Palliser Rd damage as of Thursday. PHOTOS/MARY ARGUE

More than a million dollars has been spent on temporary fixes to Cape Palliser Rd this year alone, but the weather-beaten tarmac is inching closer to a permanent fix.

After many years of constant battering by the sea and hefty paychecks needed to patch it up, an end could be in sight for the ill-fated stretch of road with officials hoping the trial EcoReef would be the permanent solution they had been searching for.

A spokesperson for South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] said that, despite huge chunks of tarmac still missing, the damage sustained earlier this year cost north of $1 million to patch up.

“After heavy rain and swells in April and May, the council has been approved about $855,000 for remediation on damage done in April and another $358,000 for damage in May.

“Waka Kotahi funds 100 per cent of the work on Cape Palliser Rd.”

The spokesperson said that despite its condition, getting the road open for residents and visitors had been a priority.

“There has been an initial start on repairs to ensure the road remains open to all traffic, but work has been hampered by illness and staff needing to go to the most urgent work around the district, particularly after the extraordinary flooding of the last month.

“The key thing is that Cape Palliser Rd is accessible and safe, and after that, longer term remedial work may commence in the summer, when roading conditions are drier.

“The long-term plan for the road includes the protection of the coastline and road using the EcoReef technology. Following the preliminary success of our EcoReef trial in Whatarangi, another trial is scheduled to be put in place this summer at Turners Bay.”

Obvious signs of erosion on the Cape Palliser road.

SWDC councillor Brian Jephson said the council had been working towards a permanent fix for several years and that of the about 35km-40km, only about 4km-5km were particularly problematic.

“About three years ago we started to investigate using EcoReef.

“But we had to go through a process because it was a new concept and it hasn’t been proven, and it took two-and-a-half to three years to get consent.”

Jephson said that simply moving the road backwards away from the sea was not a solution that would work.

“The road couldn’t have been built any further back and you can’t really go up into the hills – with soft pasture up there you’d get slips and end up like Hinakura Rd.

“At the end of the day if you move the road back, you’re just running away from the problem.

“Erosion will catch up.”

EcoReef designer Fred Waiker said that after six months since the installation, the wall had more than proven its worth.

“We certainly had very high expectations and are extremely happy with how everything has worked out.

“Even though it was our first coastal and trial build there is nothing we would do differently.”

Waiker said his team had held meetings with the council and there were plans to start a permanent fix for Turner’s Bay by the end of the year.

George Shiers
George Shiers
George Shiers is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age interested in politics and social issues. He reports regularly on a range of topics including infrastructure, housing, and transport. George is also the Tararua reporter and helps cover police, fire and court stories.

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