An important road link to the East Coast will soon be the focus of improvements to limit the impact storms and floods have on it.
Wainui Road, which links Ōhope to Ōpōtiki around Ōhiwa Harbour, is the focus of a joint project between Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Whakatāne District Council and Ōpōtiki District Council to reduce the impact flooding has on it.
The recommendation for improving the road came from a study into Eastern Bay of Plenty route security by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA). The study looked at key routes used to transport goods, services and people across the eastern Bay, and identified all the sites where traffic flows were disrupted due to storm events before ranking them in terms of significance and how easy and cost effective they were to fix.
Three key flood prone sites on Wainui Road will be the focus of the improvements: near Te Kooti Road; near Cheddar Valley; and the SH2/Wainui Road intersection at Matekerepu.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council has made $1.7million funding for the improvements available from its Infrastructure Fund. NZTA will also seek further funding for improvements on the state highways between SH2/Wainui Road intersection and Opotiki.
Regional Council Chairman John Cronin said using the Infrastructure fund to help improve important transport routes to the east coast was a great example of how the fund can benefit the whole region.
“We need to have robust networks in the region to transport both our people and our goods to where they need to go – this project will help with that,” Mr Cronin said.
The project will be a joint effort between the councils and NZTA, according to Whakatāne District Council Mayor Tony Bonne.
“It’s been great to see the collaboration occurring already, and I’m looking forward to seeing this continue through the project,” Mr Bonne said.
Ōpōtiki District Council Mayor John Forbes said while physical work on the road was unlikely to begin until early next year, it was great to see work starting that would help reduce the impact storms had on isolating the Ōpōtiki District from the rest of the region.
“This road is an essential lifeline for Opotiki and anything that will ensure our roads remain open and accessible during storms is terrific news,” Mr Forbes said. “It will also be good for the businesses both in Opotiki and the wider region that rely on road transport to get their goods to and from market.”
The improvement works for all sites are expected to be a mix of river/stream flow and alignment improvements, possibly stop-banking, and raising sections of the road.