Totaranui road to reopen

ALASTAIR PAULIN
Last updated 13:00 08/06/2012

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The road to Totaranui will be officially reopened on June 29.

Tasman District Council transport manager Gary Clark said the $700,000 project was essentially complete but the council was holding off on opening it until some winter storms could put it to the test and wash away some loose material from slips.

Wednesday's storm did just that and the road was in good shape, he said.

"It's much easier to get nature to do it than to get the helicopters in."

The repairs were funded by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

The road is designated as a "special-purpose road" so it qualifies for a 100 per cent Government subsidy.

Mr Clark said initial assessments of the cost to repair the popular tourist road were about $15 million, but these were based only on a helicopter fly-over.

The cost had been lowered partly by accepting some "residual risk" of loose material coming off slips above the road.

The council made the tradeoff between lowering the construction cost and increasing maintenance costs, as part of living with some slip risk, said Mr Clark.

In some places, the road was down to a single lane across slip faces. Mr Clark said these sections were short and therefore not signposted.

He said work was still being completed on the Awaroa bridge, on the road beyond Totaranui to Awaroa.

Chris Shaw, the owner of MaxiCab Shuttles, said the opening of the 10km of unsealed road from Wainui to Totaranui was good news.

It would help to draw mountainbikers to the area as it would allow them to complete the Gibbs Hill loop, which is in the final year of the Department of Conservation's three-year mountainbiking trial.

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- The Nelson Mail

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