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Mind the gap at Mahia

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QRS has been helping apply a temporary repair to the Mahia East Coast Road near the Waitapatu Culvert where coastal erosion has dramatically undermined an old wooden crib wall causing it to fail and the section of road above it to drop into the sea.

To ensure road users have a safe passage while engineers develop a plan for the challenging road repair a portable pre-fabricated Bailey bridge was assembled, anchored and tied down on site by Downer during a two- day road closure.

During the closure and while the bridge was being constructed, QRS staff imported material onto the site and built the road up around the ends of the 28m Bailey bridge making a smooth entry and exit for road users.

The bridge approaches were cemented stabilised, shaped, and compacted into the right contour to ensure a seamless transition from road to bridge. The environmental impact of the failed wall was lessened by safely removing debris from the shoreline.

QRS manager Tony O’Sullivan says the previous wooden crib wall was over 25 years old, battered and beaten by the wind, sea and salt, and gave way in spectacular style.

“The coastline is very susceptible to erosion and the ground under the road is severely undermined with chunks of earth occasionally still disappearing.”

The Bailey bridge and repairs are expected to be in place for at least six months while engineers devise a final repair method for the road.

A wāhi tapu on the ground above the dropout means that retreating away from the dropout may not be an option.

QRS staff working at the site say it’s a stunning place to work while overlooking the Pacific Ocean. On clear days they can see ships in Poverty Bay/Tūranganui-a-Kiwa.

The dramatic dropout and often noisy civil construction machinery doesn’t appear to have affected bird life in the area. White-breasted shags roost in an enormous Macrocarpa tree directly above the dropout and are in full voice most of the time!

Road users are advised to use caution in the area. Traffic control staff are present during road works but automated stop-go lights operate for the rest of the time.

15 August 2019

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