From Tuesday 26 July 2022, State Highway 35 at Rahotautau, near the Motu River Bridge (between Ōpōtiki and Te Kaha) will open to light traffic during the evenings.

Heavy rain in the area had resulted in the washout of a large section of the road alongside the Motu river last week. A temporary single lane track was able to open over the weekend but closed at 8pm on Monday night ahead of wet weather.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency contractors have assessed the track is safe to use between 5pm and 8pm each evening. Outside of these hours, contractors will be using the track to continue repair works.

Ōpōtiki District Council Civil Defence Controller, Gerard McCormack, said it was a relief for those who relied on the road for supplies and work, but there was still a lot of work to do before the road would reopen for all traffic.

“I’d like to acknowledge and thank the work crews on the ground and all those supporting them, particularly the hapu reps who have worked all hours to get us to this point.

“It is a relief that traffic will be able to use the track between 5pm and 8pm each day until further notice. This will open up vital supply lines and allow people to get in and out. That will mean that vehicles can’t get through during most of the day. Because it is such a small area, the crews need to use that lane to work from so traffic won’t be able to pass. Of course, Waka Kotahi will be keeping a close eye on the road conditions so that we can keep everyone safe,” Mr McCormack said.

There are other safety restrictions, including the temporary closure of the Motu river mouth by the Harbourmaster so that works can be carried out safely. The Controller also asked that everyone was respectful on the site, be patient, keep to speed restrictions and take extra care on that stretch. If heavy vehicles needed to get through in exceptional circumstances, they can provide 24 hours’ notice to Higgins Contractors in Rotorua so an escort can be arranged.

“The team are making good progress stabilising the area, but at this stage we don’t have an indication of a longer-term solution. This arrangement will continue until further notice. Please continue to contact your hapu reps or Ōpōtiki District Council with any enquiries or for additional support,” Mr McCormack said.