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Transport Minister Michael Wood says he will ‘turn over every stone’ to open the slip-damaged SH25A. Photo: GORDON PREECE

‘No lack of resources’ for SH25A

There’s “no lack of money” to repair the massive slip that took out 130m of the Kōpū-Hikuai Rd, Transport Minister Michael Wood said last week.
The Minister met with Mayor Len Salt, Coromandel business leaders and a new advisory group he established for the district on March 30 to understand its issues moving through the cyclone recovery period.

The minister said the meeting was “a very good constructive discussion” to reassure the council and community that the government was committed to improving transport connectivity for the district including the vital State Highway 25A link.
“The hope is that we will reopen it and that we will turn over every stone to open it as soon as we can, no one is waiting around, there is no lack of resources, there is no lack of money,” he said.
“The government has put in $250 million to Waka Kotahi and would put more in to make sure we get critical roads like this one open.
“I cannot give a guarantee that it will be open by December, we need to be honest with people about that, but we will be able to give a greater level of clarity once a preferred option is chosen and we will move with all speed to get it underway.”
Waka Kotahi earlier said it would decide by May whether a bridge, retaining wall or bypass would be the best repair option.
Mayor Len Salt said while there was always “a level of frustration” that improvements couldn’t be made faster, he felt the district had good support to progress.
“We’ve got business funds coming through which we are able to distribute to the business community and to affected people but I would always like [the rebuild] to be a bit quicker, and that’s the frustration,” he said.
“It’s unlikely that [SH25A] would get fixed by Christmas so we need to be looking at what are the contingencies that we can put in place to support businesses through that period.
“It’s better to have the reality on the table than work on false hope and I found that quite refreshing.”
Minister Wood advised the district had been granted additional funding which follows an initial $1.4 million Business Disaster Relief Fund by council to support impacted businesses.
Mayor Len Salt said the funding boost would allow its roughly 400 applicants, who had to apply for the funding before March 31, to receive support as applications had been “oversubscribed”.
“Now we’ve got confirmation on that second tranche of funding it means we can go ahead and finish those assessments and award that funding on the basis of the initial need that they applied for,” he said.