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Nga Rori Tūkinohia Waipuke

Flood-damaged road network

From the impact of cyclones Hale and Gabrielle - January and February 2023 and the severe rain event in June

Severe weather events this year have caused significant damage to the Tairāwhiti local road network. Almost all of our rural network was closed post cyclones Hale and Gabrielle and 8 bridges were completely destroyed and 54 have significant damage.

The rural network was further impacted by heavy rain in June (the third state of emergency this year for the district) causing more significant land movement.

Our focus is always to reopen roads to residents who are cut off and to get access for heavy freight to support our rural communities. Priority is given to school bus routes, safe access to connect communities and forestry and farm access routes for animal welfare.

We have funding of $68M of which $50M was spent by the end of June. This is 100% funded by the government.

Our estimate of the initial clean-up costs are around $120M. We're still investigating the total cost of repairs to the network - it could range from $465 - $725 million.

How the initial $68 million funding

The $68M will be spent opening or providing temporary access for disconnected communities. This could include alternative access like temporary bridge repairs, ford crossings, using private land for road access and state highway detours.
It also includes clearing slips, removing slash from under bridges, silt clearing, roadside drainage works and tree removal.

We have 5 project work streams

On this page

S1: Repair or replacement of 61 bridges

Costs estimated at $140-160M to repair back to normal. Or $255-$320M if we add resilience (revised cost)
All this bridge work could take up to 4 years.

Post Gabrielle, we assessed all 424 bridges in our region and found 61 were either destroyed or had major issues. In the 4 months after the cyclone, staff and contractors have repaired 140 bridge faults including removing wood debris and structural fixes.

8 bridges destroyed - categorised as 'Black' serious damage

We're working with Waka Kotahi on major roading infrastructure replacement. We need to submit a benefits and economic evaluation on each destroyed bridge. This involves looking at alternative options, traffic volumes, detailing benefits of the project and economic costings.

If the evaluations are favourable and we can secure government funding, then the next challenge will be obtaining the remaining costs from ratepayers.

Design, investigation and procurement processes will take at least 12-16 months, then we would have a rolling programme of 2-3 bridges a year, depending on funding. Geotechnical investigations underway at all sites.

Residents have asked about bailey bridges, these are prioritised on a nationwide basis including state highways.
To construct a new bridge could take up to 3-4 years.

Bridge and roadCommentStatus
Burgess Bridge, Burgess RdFord crossing being installed for access over summer. 
A new bridge is subject to funding, but not likely until summer 2028.
Alternative route
Hangaroa Bridge, Hangaroa RdTemporary engineered crossing solution to be installed in summer 2024.
A new bridge is subject to funding, but not likely until summer 2028. 
No access
Hollywood Bridge, Bushy Knoll RdBailey Bridge installed. A new bridge is subject to funding, but not likely until summer 2026.Restrictions
Grays Bridge, Bruce RdFord crossing installed.
A new bridge is subject to funding, but not likely until summer 2026. 
Mangatai Bridge, Te Kowhai RdFord crossing installed.
A new bridge is subject to funding, but not likely until summer 2028.
Mata Bridge (Huiarua), Upper Mata RdGeotech investigations underway.
A new bridge is subject to funding, but not likely until summer 2027 
Alternative route via Tuakau & Ihungia roads
Pauariki Bridge, Hikuwai RdFord crossing installed.
A new bridge is subject to funding, but not likely until summer 2028
St Ledgers Bridge, Ruakaka RdAlternative access via Ruakaka Rd.
A new bridge is subject to funding, but not likely until summer 2026 
Restrictions to 3.5T on wet days
 Table updated  3 October 2023 

10 bridges with major structural issues - categorised as 'Red' significant damage

These bridges require immediate repairs, due to the risk we could lose them completely in a further flood event.

By September repairs have been completed on Arakihi Bridge, Carlson Bridge on Waikura Rd, Littleworth Bridge on Pehiri Rd, Mangareia Bridge on Walker Rd, Whakoau Bridge on Mata Rd.

Bridge and roadCommentStatus now
Awatere Bridge,
East Cape Rd
Permanent fix completed.Open to all traffic
Makarika #2 BridgeTemp repair done. Abutment fix programmed for summer 2024.Closed to heavy traffic
Mangaheia #4 Bridge
Tauwhareparae Rd
Debris removed. Steel plate installed. More work in summer 2024Closed to heavy traffic
Waikereu Bridge, Riverside RdTemp repair done. Design for permanent fix to be completed summer 2024Open to all traffic
Waitangi BridgeDesigns underwayRestrictions in place
 Table updated January 2024 

43 bridges with major scouring - categorised as 'Orange' moderate damage

With major scouring around the abutments, work is needed before they become bigger structural issues. There are 20 bridges in the Waipaoa area, 17 in Uawa and 6 in the Hikurangi area.

S2: Tiniroto Road at the Hangaroa Bluffs

Costs estimated at $35 - $50M to repair back to normal. Or  $65-$130M if we add resilience (revised cost)
We're looking at all options to fix this but a long term fix could be up to 3 years away,

The road suffered significant damage at the bluffs - 1400m of road was undermined with river protection works partly or fully destroyed. The 2 lane road was scoured away and reduced to less than one lane in parts. It required repairs to the retaining wall structures and rock protection works. The road had reopened to single lane access.

Following the June rain event

A helicopter fly over of the site, engineers discovered tension cracks that could come down on the road without warning.

Geotechnical engineers inspected the bluffs between the 35 - 37km mark. All 3 bluffs were found to present imminent and extreme risk to road users. Extreme injury or death is a probable consequence should road users be impacted by falling material.

Given the unpredictable nature of the hazards identified, concrete barriers have been installed at either end to close it to all traffic.

The road closure will remain in place until adequate remedial or protective measures can be implemented.

For access Hangaora and Tiniroto residents are using the Parikanapa Road bypass.
Parikanapa Road is 4WD vehicles only. Heavy trucks need to contact Council's Journeys team for access.
Light or 2WD vehicles need to drive to Wairoa and then on to the state highway back to Gisborne.

Tiniroto Bluffs reports

June 2023 Tiniroto Road Site Inspection Report by LDE

July 2023 Addendum to the Inspection Report - Risk Mitigation Options and Costs

S3: Drop outs and retaining wall repairs

Costs estimated at $80M-$105M. Or if we add resilience $120 - $255M
Work could take up to 2-3 years to fully complete.

We estimate there's over 250 major drop outs or sections of roads impacted by river erosion across the entire network.

These sites will have signs and road cones to make them safe until we can get engineers and geotechnical assessments completed. Initial site assessments could be completed by August 2023. The more complex issues may not be completed until the end of October 2023.

Waihau Road

In the June 2023, a significant landslide washed out part of Waihau Road approx 4.8km from the intersection with SH35. Geotechnical engineers inspected the site where 5m of the road had been lost. Their findings were that this was part of a much larger 110m fault.

The dropout was the direct result of a landslide and debris flow that occurred more than 30m above the road. The debris flow washed over the road and blocked the road drainage. As a result of the loss of drainage, the road was washed out by the flood and debris. Residents only had walking access around the slip.

Work to repair the dropout and reinstate road access was completed and reopened to residents in November 2023. Following a favourable risk assessment - the road reopened to all traffic from December, but with conditions.

No stopping signs are installed at both ends of the repaired section of road.

The following triggers have been put in place as the landslide could reactivate and the road may dropout.

Alerts for MetService heavy rain warnings that include this area:

  • Orange Warning - residents and campers need to closely monitor the weather forecast and be prepared to evacuate.
  • Red Warning - the road will close, residents and campers need to evacuate.
Waihau Road slip reports

7 December 2023 - Post-Slip Risk Assessment Report
27 July 2023 - Updated report - LDE Report on Waihau Road Slip

S4: Silt removal

Cost estimated at $15-20M

It's estimated that there's over 650,000 cubic metres of silt to be removed from drains, slips and roads. This needs to be carted to a disposal sites once the sites are ready to take the material. In places the silt still needs to dry out before it can be removed.

S5: Slash removal

Costs estimated at $130M

We've removed slash from 77 bridges at a cost of $1.7M.

Staff have scoped the cost to remove all the slash in the catchments where bridges have been destroyed or majorly impacted. The risk if this debris is not removed is it may compromise any future bridge repair wok.

Assessments are completed and procurement to remove and dispose of it is being developed.

Tauwhareparae Road

There are 4 damaged bridges, major slips and 2 landslides at the 17 and 26km mark - staff are working on the full business case for Tauwhareparae Road to be able to apply for funding. This could take up to 6 months and will also include options for alternative routes.

Landslide dam update 28 August - the landslide dam on Tauwhareparae Road has been assessed as low to minimal risk of failure. The dam of water is being actively monitored and inspected, especially after rain. The landslide dam is quite small at 1.2ha and water is freely flowing through it which reduces risk. The gradient on the dam is low, which also reduces the risk of rapid failure. The dam has been assessed as having 26,000m3 of water in it and measures 5m deep and 20m wide.

Road closure information

For up to date information on closed roads, restrictions and bridges closed