CONTRACTORS work to ensure the Otara River bridge stays in top shape. Photo James Sandbrook OB4875-01

STATE Highway 35 has reopened to oversized traffic after more than a year of complications.

Three sites between Opotiki and Te Kaha were initially impacted by poor weather causing road underslips.

The last of these sites – Whitianga Bay – now has a retaining wall in place and has had road sealing and line marking work undertaken.

New Zealand Transport Agency acting Bay of Plenty system manager Graeme Withington said this work not only returned the road’s functionality but helped to protect against future underslips as well.

“The repairs are designed to re-engineer the slip face, stabilise the area and allow the road to be rebuilt, making it safer and less likely to be significantly impacted by underslips in the future,” he said.

In the interest of preventing underslips affecting other areas of State Highway 35 and beyond, Mr Withington said the highways were regularly checked by NZTA inspectors.

“Our network inspectors routinely check the entire Bay of Plenty East state highway network and report anything out of the ordinary for further investigation,” he said.

With roadworks in place since August 2018, Mr Withington
said the roadworks had taken this length of time due to
multiple factors.

These were mainly a complex design process; challenging enabling works; problematic ground conditions that required changes to design; difficult site access due to being on a steep slope; and a narrow work area with limited space for plant.

The road has now fully reopened to all traffic.

Most work done in decade

OPOTIKI has benefited from the New Zealand Transport Agency’s largest maintenance works in the past decade.

Over the past week, contractors have been working to keep the district’s roads in top shape with highway resealing and maintenance.

Falling in with the “summer maintenance season”, which runs from October to March, the works coincide with favourable conditions.

“Warmer spring and summer months are the best time for resurfacing as daylight hours are longer and the warm temperatures and dry air help the new seal stick to the road surface,” said NZTA acting Bay of Plenty system manager Graeme Withington.

Mr Withington said Opotiki and the wider Bay were receiving a large amount of roadworks this season, “to improve the roads, increase safety and make people’s journeys more enjoyable”.

“While we try to keep inconveniences and delays to a minimum, we urge people to plan their journeys and allow for some delays from road works,” he said.

james.sandbrook@opotikinews.co.nz