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Options are still being considered to repair State Highway 25A from Kōpū to Hikuai. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

SH25A fix ‘too long’

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson has condemned the lack of a decision to repair State Highway 25A.

“It has been three months since the Kōpū-Hikuai highway closed, but we still have no idea when the road will be reopened. People have been patient, but the lack of decision, let alone a start on the work to get the road reopened is deeply concerning,” Mr Simpson said.

“NZTA are meant to be making an announcement about SH25A in May, but three months has been far too long to wait and is indicative of the lack of urgency to fix SH25A.”

Mr Simpson said local residents were frustrated and angry.

“Our communities are resilient, but I have spoken to many businesses who are at their breaking point.

“Everyone is suffering and we desperately need some positive action. Any solution that does not get the Kōpū-Hikuai reopened by Christmas simply is not good enough, because the prospect of a fourth devastating summer for our region is too awful to contemplate.”

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency said an announcement was “imminent”. “[We] agree that the work to repair SH25A is a high priority,” acting regional manager of infrastructure delivery Jason Harrison said.

“Waka Kotahi is focused on restoring vital access to the Coromandel as soon as possible. Beyond the initial emergency response, our focus also includes long-term solutions so that SH25 and SH25A remain resilient.

“We acknowledge that Coromandel residents, businesses and visitors are very concerned about how long it will take to rebuild SH25A. While SH25A is closed, Waka Kotahi is acutely aware of the sacrifices locals, businesses and communities are having to make.”

Waka Kotahi will confirm their preferred roading fix in May, and is considering three options.

A bridge across the slip site is considered the fastest option. A steel bridge with precast deck elements, lightweight long beams and fewer piles would save time over a bridge with concrete beams, NZTA said.

A bypass option would require a new section of road around the slip site, however, geotechnical information showed a bypass to the north would need substantial digging out. Likewise, moving the bypass closer to the slip face would require rebuilding an embankment, filling the slip below and removing the old slip material, a challenging task during winter weather. There were also concerns over where to place the removed fill.

The third option, a retaining wall, would require the rebuilding of the embankment where the road slipped away. Soil testing was undertaken on April 17 to see whether the ground conditions would make this a viable option.

Waka Kotahi said expediting delivery would be a considerable factor in deciding the preferred option.

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Journalism funded by NZ on Air