Earthworks back in action on Route 52

Published 16 Oct 2023

The remaining earthworks are ramping up on Route 52 as the Huarahi Tūhono – Weber to Wimbledon project kicks off for the summer construction period.

Tararua Alliance Capital Projects Manager Andrew Desmond says from now until Christmas there’ll be a big push to get the remaining earthworks completed and start laying the sub-base pavement. This will widen the remaining narrow sections that were started last construction season.

Planned works ahead
The major works will be in the area between Esdaile Road and Kelvin Grove Farm, with other pockets of work along the route. No road closures are planned but there may be some extended delays for tree felling and emergency works. If you’re driving in the area please slow down, follow the traffic controls and be aware there will be more trucks in the area.

Mr Desmond says, “We’ve had a challenging year and essentially lost six months to storms but with the weather pattern drying up we’re getting out there in earnest to make up for the lost time.

“After Christmas, we’re looking at final pavement construction. The work programme is a combination of the original programme for Route 52 and emergency works after Cyclone Gabrielle.”

Building resilience into the Route 52 upgrade
Mr Desmond says building resilience into the upgrade of Route 52 is a high priority: “One element we’ve had to contend with in this area is the unstable upslopes. These comprise very soft weak clay material on greasy-back slopes. In these conditions, there is a high risk that in some locations the banks will slide off the hills and onto the road. To mitigate this risk, we’ve been investing in upslope diversion drains on private land.”

Extra funding for drainage
The project team secured additional funds to get this drainage work done and, after Cyclone Gabrielle, it’s clear that was the right call. “In high-risk locations where we have installed the upslope diversion drains, the banks didn’t come down onto the road in Cyclone Gabrielle – a good test of the resilience of the work done to date.”

Huarahi Tūhono – Weber to Wimbledon is a 100% central government funded project to upgrade sections 44 and 63 of Route 52 between the Central Hawke’s Bay boundary (Wimbledon) and the Route 52/Weber intersection. The project started in January 2021 and was initially intended to be completed in April 2024, however, Mr Desmond says that due to storm delays, November 2024 is more realistic.