Huarahi Tūhono – Weber to Wimbledon road upgrade on target for 2022

Huarahi Tūhono – Weber to Wimbledon, the upgrade of Route 52, has seen good progress in 2021. Teams have been working hard to improve resilience and safety along the 26-kilometre section of road that connects Weber with Wimbledon.

Central Government investment of $14.6 million, administered by Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit (Kānoa – RDU), has enabled Tararua District Council (TDC) to significantly expand its roading programme on Route 52. With TDC’s entire roading budget between $13 and $14 million per year, the additional funding has been a substantial boost to the district.

The project is managed through the Tararua Alliance, Council’s partnership with Downer NZ, and delivered alongside existing and new supply partners. The project is currently slightly ahead of schedule, with works planned for 2022 having commenced in recent months.

A range of works have been completed over recent months, with a focus on road widening works in the Wimbledon area to allow vehicles (especially trucks) to safely pass each other. Project Manager Andrew Desmond explains what will happen in the period leading up to Christmas; “We are in the final stages of widening the road in the from an average of 5.3 metres to over 7 metres. Before Christmas, a general tidy-up of freshly sealed areas, line marking and the installation of new signage will be completed along the 7km section. A broader tidy-up of the 26km length will also occur, including fixing some of the potholes and slumps that have formed during Winter and Spring, in time for holiday traffic.”

Further safety improvements along various sections of the road planned for 2022 to make the road straighter and wider, and improving the overall visibility before the teams start to address some of the more technically challenging sections of the route which have greater design and engineering needs. (link to map here)

Besides road improvements, this “Shovel-Ready Project” is expected to have a positive impact on community wellbeing, unlock long-term social benefits, and help lift the economy of Tararua district.

Natasha Morris, Kānoa – RDU’s Senior Regional Advisor for Manawatū-Whanganui, explains this project is more than just a road. “It is about stimulating economic activity and creating work for local people and opportunities for local businesses. The social outcomes of this project are commendable, of the current 54 people working on the project, around 85% are local. Not only has the road construction had a positive impact on the area’s economy, but it has had an impact on people’s lives and wellbeing. Helping our regions grow and develop to reach their full potential is what Kānoa – RDUstrives for.,” says Natasha Morris.

Physical works along the road will pause on the 22 December, and plan to recommence on 10 January 2022. During this break there will be a skeleton crew onsite to do off-road works, which will not affect the public. The planned finish date for the project is April 2024.