Residents defying road closure despite slip warnings

By Simon Chapman

Maraetai Coast Road - between Clevedon and Maraetai - in east Auckland has been closed for more than a month. Photo / Simon Chapman
Maraetai Coast Road - between Clevedon and Maraetai - in east Auckland has been closed for more than a month. Photo / Simon Chapman

Residents are ignoring two sets of road closure signs and moving cones to get through a road plagued by slips after the March storms.

Maraetai Coast Rd - between Clevedon and Maraetai - in east Auckland has been closed for more than a month, but some residents are driving through when road workers aren't there to stop them.

One seaside resident, who did not want to be named, said he knew the risk but still used the road as he didn't want to drive the alternative 35-minute route through Clevedon and Beachlands.

He works just 2km from his home on the other side of the road closure.

Several residents in the area said they had approached Auckland Transport, and the Auckland Council. However, the residents said no one had given them an answer as to when the road will be reopened.

"They're working on it, that's all they've told us," he said.

"They don't tell us anything that's why I keep driving."

An electronic sign in Clevedon - 12km away - warns of the closure, as does another sign just before the closure. Cones also block both ends of the closed road, but residents still drive through.

Residents are ignoring two sets of road closure signs. Photo / Simon Chapman
Residents are ignoring two sets of road closure signs. Photo / Simon Chapman

The Herald observed 15 cars driving through over half an hour from 4.30pm on a week day this month.

Two asked whether they could drive on, despite already passing the signs. The others just went through.

Auckland Transport spokesman James Ireland said he was disappointed people were continuing to put their lives at risk by using the road despite the warnings.

"There is very clear signage at both ends of the road closure telling drivers the road is closed.

"Auckland Transport takes safety incredibly seriously and wants drivers to know that it is a major safety hazard for anyone to drive through a road closure unless specifically allowed through under controlled conditions."

He said AT was working to get the road reopened to the public by the end of this weekend.

"Due to the nature of the geology, the steep slopes on the properties above the road are prone to slippage during extreme weather events as experienced in March."

Workers have cleared enough of the slips to allow one lane to be clear.

"The slippage is shallow and does not affect the stability of the road foundation," Ireland said.

The resident said the workers were actively turning road users away during working hours, but after hours people would move the cones and drive through.

"There are warning signs all the way back in Clevedon, but you see people still coming out here asking if they can go through," he said.

With no policing the road closure after working hours, road users are continuing to use the road despite the threat of further land slips.

The resident was concerned the remains of tropical Cyclone Cook would see the area flood again and make the clean-up worse. Fortunately, the passing storm didn't damage the area, but the residents are still concerned about the prospect of further flooding.

Maraetai Wharf Cafe manager Sonny Md. Arisuddin said he had seen a significant falloff in customers since the road closed.

"It's been quiet for the last few weeks, especially on the weekend."

Residents in the area, and out of towners wanting to come to the cafe, were constantly asking whether they would be able to get through.

"Everyone has been coming and saying 'what's happening and why is it taking so long?'"

"We don't know what to do because everyone is coming and asking. People are even calling asking whether the road is still closed or not. We always have to say it's closed. It's been more than three weeks, I don't know why it's taking so long to fix."

- NZ Herald

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