Erosion encroaches on Waianakarua Rd. Photo by Andrew
A group of Waitaki businessmen who were just weeks away
from beginning erosion protection work to shore up a coastal
section of Waianakarua Rd are dismayed that parts of the
roadside were swept into the sea earlier this week.
The Waitaki District Council closed one lane of a 200m
section of the road at Orere Point on Tuesday, after parts of
the road shoulder broke away as a result of coastal erosion,
leading some to fear that the road could close for good.
The Waitaki Forward group, formed by 12 local residents,
began investigations into how best to guard against erosion
eight months ago, and work to build a 12m concrete wall was
just weeks away from starting, but group member Alan McLay
said the new slip had now expanded to about 60m in length.
The road was of "major importance" to the local economy and,
although repair was still possible, it would need "huge
input" from the local community because they now feared the
council did not have "the heart or will" to keep the road
open, Mr McLay said.
"It's huge news for tourism long term. It's one of the few
coastal roads left without a major detour between
Christchurch and Dunedin, and it covers some beautiful
"This is going to be a big deal when people realise it's at
risk of closing."
Council roading manager Michael Voss said the single lane and
a temporary 30kmh-per-hour speed limit had been put in place
until the situation could be fully assessed.
"The road at this location has been undermined by the sea to
the point where slippage has occurred and it is no longer
safe to keep the two lanes open. We now need to fully assess
the situation to determine what the longer-term options are."
A full assessment would take about one month to complete, but
contractors would be putting in place semi-permanent railings
and signs over the next couple of days, Mr Voss said.
"The first priority is ensuring the area is as safe as
possible for road users before we undertake the full
assessment." The council had no intention of closing the road
for good, and he would meet New Zealand Transport Agency
representatives on Monday to discuss funding options, he