All state highways reopened in East Coast and Hawke’s Bay following Gabrielle


A key milestone in the recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle has been achieved with all state highways in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti now open following completion of the Hikuwai Bailey bridge, Associate Transport Minister Kiri Allan said today.

“This is a significant milestone in the ongoing recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle, marking the final stretch of State Highway on the East Coast and in Hawke’s Bay to be reopened, four months on from the cyclone,” Kiri Allan said.

“It’s a huge day for the mighty East Coast. This highway is a lifeline for residents of Tokomaru Bay, Waipiro Bay, Te Puia Springs and other communities along SH35 to Gisborne and residents have suffered over the past few months. While a locally-built bypass road has allowed some traffic to move through, travel has been limited, impacting communities.

“At 85 metres, the Hikuwai Bailey bridge is the longest Bailey bridge in the post cyclone recovery and replaces the Hikuwai no.1 bridge north of Gisborne that collapsed during Cyclone Gabrielle.

“It will restore connectivity and improve travel times on this stretch of highway for local communities, whānau and businesses while we investigate the best long-term solutions for infrastructure resilience in the area.”

The bridge is one of 11 Bailey bridges the Government committed to building to reconnect cyclone affected communities.

“Today’s opening follows the completion of the Waikare Gorge Bailey bridge on State Highway 2 last month, reconnecting Wairoa and Napier.

“We know the last four months have been really tough for many communities and the Government has been focused on restoring access along State Highway 35 and other critical routes as quickly as possible.

“We’ve topped up the National Land Transport Fund by $250 million to cover the cost of emergency repairs and have earmarked a further $275 million for this work in Budget 2023.”

The community-led bypass road opened in March to temporarily replace the washed out Hikuwai no.1 bridge.

“The hard work of our committed local roading crews, contractors and bridge engineers has been incredible and I know everyone has worked tirelessly to reopen these critical routes as safely and quickly as possible.

“SH35 is a lifeline for whānau working and living on the coast. We need to ensure more resilience is built into the future of this network.”

In Budget 2023, the Government committed $140 million over the next seven years to fund a pipeline of low cost low risk resilience works on local roads. A further $279 million has been set aside for resilience works on state highways over the same time period.

“The Government is committed to working on long-term solutions to ensure a safe and resilient transport network that communities can rely on now and into the future,” Kiri Allan said.