$125K to remove unstable rocks

Thames Coromandel District Council has approved $125,000 towards for remedial work at Bluff Road.

The council is expecting Bluff Road, between Matarangi and Suckers Rock, will be open for walking and cycling by the end of the year, once unstable rocks and debris is removed and mesh netting installed.

However, it will not be accessible for vehicle traffic due to the high cost it would take to open and maintain the route for all transport modes.

"We’re doing all that is required to make the road safe and able to be open to cyclists and pedestrians, who use it as a thoroughfare to get between Matarangi and Kuaotunu West," says Allan Tiplady, Area Manager for Mercury Bay.

"The primary driver for reopening this portion of road is for amenity reasons rather than to provide alternate road access.

"Currently the rock face at the most at-risk section of the road has deteriorated to the point where only a thin sliver of rock is supporting a large section of the rock face, so that when this falls there will be a rapid collapse of a large volume of rock.”

Now that Council has approved $125,000, the next steps will be removing all that rock and debris, installing the mesh netting and getting the road open before this coming summer.

In the past two years sections of the Bluff Road has had several significant rock falls, which has  resulted in approximately $200,000 being spent on remedial and design work. 

The last rock fall in December 2015 resulted in this portion of Bluff Road being closed off while Council considered its future viability.

Between December 2015 and April 2016 discussions were held with both the Kuaotunu and Matarangi Residents and Ratepayer Associations, along with a Bluff Road Treatment Options report being completed, to look at all the options for the future of the road.

Legal advice was also sought about total closure of the affected section of the road.

"We also put up pedestrian barriers, bollards and signage during this time, along with a monitoring programme to manage the public safety risk," says Allan.

"Those will remain in place until the road is ready to be reopened."