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Minister of Transport Michael Wood announced the construction of a new bridge along SH25A on May 9. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

New bridge the choice for SH25A

A bridge is the chosen option to reconnect State Highway 25A between Kōpū and Hikuai, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today.

In a media briefing at the Thames Coromandel Council building, the minister spoke about the need to reconnect the east and west coasts of the peninsula as quickly as possible. He said the current aim is to have the road open by early 2024. 

The bridge, one of three options explored by Waka Kotahi to fix the road, is estimated to cost between $30-40 million. Tenders are already underway, and the minister said formal construction was likely to begin towards the end of June. 

“A bridge was selected as it will reconnect the Coromandel Peninsula in the shortest period of time possible, and it is the safest and most resilient option,” Minister Wood said. 

“Another key advantage of the bridge option, is that it means work can continue over the winter period, because much of the construction of the bridge can occur offsite.”

The bridge will be two lanes, and at a minimum will reinstate the portion of road which is missing. Walking and cycling options will be looked at as part of the design process. 

Minister Wood said the road was a critical link for the region, with approximately 3700 vehicles traversing it daily before its closure on January 27.

“This has been a road which has been exposed to the elements over the years,” he said.

“[Waka Kotahi] have been focused on finding the right solution, that can be built in a way that is safe and resilient, as quickly as they possibly can.” 

Waka Kotahi general manager of transport services Brett Gliddon noted that work would also be ongoing along the entire closed stretch of SH25A.

“We are going to look at the whole corridor as well because [the bridge] will actually end up being very resilient and some of the other parts of the corridor not so resilient,” he said.

“The site hasn’t stopped moving, there’s still a lot of water running through it … there’s still concern about the land above it moving as well, so that does create some challenges for us.” 

Meanwhile, the minister also announced a temporary alternative route for the Tapu-Coroglen Road, estimated to be open by June. 

“The route will be single-lane, it will have limited visibility and does have tight corners,” he said. 

Thames Coromandel District Mayor Len Salt said he was pleased to have a timeline to work towards, to provide certainty for the community, but he was still focused on helping businesses survive until the road was open. 

“We’ve got an idea of that timeline so it’s really good to have that certainty,” he said.

“What we need now [is] to make sure we do everything we can to try and get support for those businesses affected through this period. Knowing that there’s a bridge being built is part of it, surviving until the road is open is the next part of it.” 

Mayor Salt said he needed the community to continue to reach out to him, and he would continue to press the government to ensure relief was available. 

“The minister’s saying the support that needs to come through to specific businesses will be more targeted,” he said, adding that he knew the communities along the East Coast were struggling particularly hard. 

Mayor Salt said around $7 million has already been distributed to businesses throughout the district, through the mayoral relief fund and the government’s business support grant.

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Journalism funded by NZ on Air