The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) officially opened the new State Highway 35 road at Maraenui today with Local Member of Parliament, Anne Tolley in attendance at the ceremony.
Construction of the new road started in March last year after the previous road was severely damaged by a series of large slips and deemed irreparable. An abandoned logging track on the opposite side of Maraenui Hill was upgraded by the NZTA to state highway standards and has taken 19 months to complete.
Acting NZTA Bay of Plenty state highways manager Nigel D’Ath, says the opening marks the end of a challenging 19 month project which involved moving approximately 235,000 cubic metres of earth material, managing moving traffic while construction activity continued and dealing with some severe weather conditions which put a hold on construction activity for a month.
“The hillside had to be benched extensively to minimise the likelihood of slips falling onto the road and the logging track had to be upgraded to two lanes to meet our state highway standards.”
Local Maraenui elders were also on hand to bless and open the new road with Local MP Anne Tolley and Opotiki Deputy Mayor a local resident Haki McRoberts. The local kura kaupapa performed a Kapa Haka after the opening ceremony.
Mr D’Ath says the completion of the new road is a blessing for local industries and residents who have been very supportive during the construction period despite some minor disruptions when the road had to be closed intermittently to allow machinery to remove material from the site.
With the tourist season getting into the full swing, the new road will also be much appreciated by holiday makers who like to travel along this coastal route, he says.