Far North roads are still impacted by 175 slips from severe weather events, but up to 75 per cent of them won’t be fixed until the middle of next year - and some will take up to three years.
Far North District Council (FNDC) roading crews have already repaired 312 of the 487 slips caused by back-to-back storms and cyclones since July 2022. That includes Cyclone Gabrielle in February, which brought record levels of rainfall to Northland and devastated parts of the North Island.
However, of the 175 slips still affecting roads in the Far North, 112 of the most serious and complex have required detailed inspections by engineers to confirm repair options. These investigations were often hampered by ongoing instability at the slip sites, caused by continued wet weather, council CEO Guy Holroyd said.
This month, the FNDC’s roading team finalised its formal emergency works site assessment and has confirmed that repairs to 81 Far North slip sites should be completed this financial year, by July 1, 2024. Each of these repairs is estimated to cost $100,000 or less and will reinstate impacted roads to their pre-event condition. Repairs to the remaining 38 much more complex slips could take between two and three years to complete.
Holroyd acknowledged the frustration felt by residents, many of whom have had to negotiate damaged roads or roads reduced to one lane for several months.
“Cyclone Gabrielle resulted in more than 140 slips and impacted 179 roads in the Far North - the highest on record for a single event. Our staff and contractors have made huge progress dealing with emergency repairs, while continuing scheduled maintenance work. In the three months of July to September this year, they have delivered $17.1 million worth of repairs, maintenance and improvements. During the same period the previous year, we delivered $9.3 million,” he said.
Holroyd said road crews will make a start as soon as possible and between now and Christmas crews will be working to ensure all remaining slip sites are safe and passable ahead of the busy summer holiday season.
“The 38 most complex slips will require specialised engineering, and we estimate that each will cost over $100,000 to repair. This will require us to undertake formal procurement processes before contracts can be let. Some of these repairs could take up to three years to complete.
“At the same time, we are continuing with planned general road maintenance over the summer construction season. This will include repairs to potholes, grading, trimming trees and improving drainage. Slips that existed before major weather events will be included in this work.”
A full list of severe weather related slip sites is available on the FNDC website - www.fndc.govt.nz/Home - along with the location of each and the current repair status.