Lengthy road closure frustrates

Otago Peninsula resident Sophie Potter (11) is fed up with having to open a gate blocking access...
Otago Peninsula resident Sophie Potter (11) is fed up with having to open a gate blocking access to a damaged part of Highcliff Rd up to five times a day. PHOTOS: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
The slip took a large bite out of the road.
The slip took a large bite out of the road.

Otago Peninsula residents are angry a section of Highcliff Rd is set to remain closed until September, more than a year after a massive downpour swept it away during last June's downpour.

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The frustration from residents comes as the Dunedin City Council finalises plans for repairs on the slip, with work not expected to start until April.

The large slip took a large bite out of the road and also ensnared two passing cars, whose drivers escaped serious injury.

Since then the section of the road between Camp Rd and Sealpoint Rd has remained closed to the public, with controlled access past the slip for residents only.

However, Otago Peninsula Board chairwoman Christine Garey has warned residents all access could be lost if the gate blocking the public continued to be left open by some of those who had been given keys.

Sandymount Rd resident Bevan Potter said residents were frustrated at the time it had taken for work to start on the fixing the section road.

They were sick of having no access to a school bus and having to get in and out vehicles in the rain to open and shut the gate, Mr Potter said.

It was also a regular occurrence for tourists to drive up to the closed section of road only to find they needed to take a lengthy detour on the bottom road.

He was also concerned access to the peninsula could be completely blocked off if there was a slip on the bottom road.

He believed the council could have simply filled the hole as a temporary solution, as local residents were already driving on top of the half-filled hole.

Council transportation projects team leader Gareth Evans said he understood the frustration, but the delay had been caused by the complexities involved in coming up with a repair.

Finding a solution was made difficult because the area was on a massive ‘‘historical landslide'' which made the earth unstable.

‘‘We can't rush in and do these things without a full and proper process.''

A preliminary design had been completed by consultants MWH to put in a reinforced earth wall and a peer review of that design was expected to be completed this week.

After that a detailed design would be completed and tenders for the work would likely go out in late February, with work expected to begin in April and be completed in September.

There were still around five other slips resulting from last June's deluge which needed repairing, but none of the others had closed roads.

Ms Garey understood residents' concerns, particularly those who had to move livestock around, but said council staff had been working as fast as they could on what was a complex fix.

The community board had worked hard to ensure access was retained for residents, but that could be lost if the gate kept being left open and if vandalism continued.

‘‘If they are going to continue to have access that has to stop.''

Residents needed to keep an eye out for suspicious activity and make sure they locked the gate after using the section of road.

She understood some access would be lost while construction was under way.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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