State Highway 35 near Motu River Bridge will open to light traffic morning and evening


State Highway 35 near Motu River Bridge (between Ōpōtiki and Te Kaha) will open to local traffic from 6am until 7am each morning and from 5pm until 8pm each evening on weekdays this week.

The temporary single lane track was closed at 8pm last night ahead of forecasted wet weather. Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency contractors have assessed the track is safe to use between 6am and 7am and from 5pm and 8pm. Outside of these hours contractors will be using the track to continue stabilisation works.

The road was opened to light traffic via a temporary single lane track on Saturday evening through to Monday morning, and again for three hours Monday night.

Traffic will be able to use the track between 6am and 7am and from 5pm and 8pm each weekday this week – conditions permitting. Weekend travel windows will be assessed on Friday.

The team continues to make great progress at the site of the collapse.

“Stabilisation work continues at pace. Large rocks are being positioned at the base of the bank to protect the road from more erosion from the rising river. River diversion works are also ongoing,” says Rob Campbell, Waka Kotahi Regional Manager of Maintenance and Operations.

“The temporary pavement and drainage is holding together well and our contractors are able to safely use heavy machinery to progress repairs.”

While the track is predominately suitable for light vehicles, trucks may be escorted through individually in exceptional circumstances. Such circumstances include emergency vehicles and businesses providing essential supplies and services. To arrange a heavy vehicle crossing time please give 24 hours’ notice and contact Higgins Contractors in Rotorua.

SH35 was closed near Motu River bridge on Wednesday night (20 July), following severe cracking and a section of the eastbound lane falling into the river.

“Our contractors have been working flat out - at all hours and in all weather - to do what they can to stabilise the river bank and bed in a temporary track to allow locals an opportunity to get through. A more permanent solution will take some time,” says Mr Campbell.

Contractors and geotechnical specialists have been working first and foremost to ensure the safety of the site and stabilise the embankment, as well as investigating options for solutions.

The Bay of Plenty, and the East Coast in particular, have experienced significant rainfall, coastal surges and strong winds this year, all of which puts pressure on a roading network that is already more vulnerable due to unstable geology.

“We know how important this road is to communities on the East Coast – to access necessary services, such as food and healthcare, to get kids to school, to run businesses and to stay in touch with friends and whānau.”

Mr Campbell encourages everyone to take care, allow additional time for their journeys and be patient.

“Safety is paramount. It is not possible yet to give a timeframe for when the road to be back to full functionality.

“We will only reopen the road when we are confident it is safe to do so, for both road users and our road workers. In the meantime we ask for patience and respect for our workers at the site. They’re doing everything they can to see this happen as soon as possible.”

We understand its challenging for people living and working along SH35 at the moment and we appreciate their resilience.