$13.2m approved to fix flood-ravaged Buller roads

3:44 pm on 2 December 2022

By Brendon McMahon, Local Democracy reporter

A section of the Karamea Bluff special purpose road which will benefit from a portion of $13.2m of new funding to fix about $40m of damage to Buller roads in the February 2022 storm.

A section of the Karamea Bluff special purpose road which will benefit from a portion of the new funding. Photo: Supplied / NZTA

The NZ Transport Agency has approved $13.2 million to fix 135 problems with flood-hit Buller roads, which suffered an estimated $40m of damage in storms last February.

The Buller District Council said today the funding included repairs to the crucial Karamea special purpose road.

"The remedial work required to return the network service levels is expected to take up to 24 months to complete," council infrastructure delivery manager Eric de Boer said.

He described the total work programme as "significant".

The council had already received $1.5m immediately after the February floods to carry out emergency repairs.

Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine said the money was welcome.

"It's lower than what the original application was but it was great to get it," he said.

He assumed the most badly damaged roads, Karamea Bluff and Denniston, would be the priority in the work programme which had been divided into a "ready to go" package for procurement purposes.

Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine gives a briefing in Westport on flooding in the region.

Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine says the payout is lower than expected but still welcome. Photo: RNZ / Nate Mckinnon

It was also a positive for local businesses and employment.

"The aim is to get some stuff done this summer ...It's good in that it's going to be a stimulus," Cleine said.

However, Karamea-based councillor Rosalie Sampson was less optimistic about how much $13.2m might achieve.

"I think it's a bit light and just hope to goodness we can get done what needs to be done. It's a lot less than what I thought it was going to be," Cr Sampson said.

"Where we go from here and what's going to be left out and what's going to be done is always the question. That $13.2m is to go to more places than just the Karamea Bluff - that's what concerns me."

De Boer would not be drawn on which road had top priority but the council had an agreed programme with NZTA for about 135 problems "right across the network".

The programme was "strategically bundled" into areas of work.

"These could be areas that are close together and hence can gain economies of scale with a contractor, or sites that are of a technically difficult nature," de Boer said.

The repairs ranged from repairing washed away bridges and structures, to restabilising lost sections of road due to slips, slumps and geotechnical instability.

"We are delighted to receive this funding support from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency which will enable us to restore our local road network back to its condition prior to the February event."

NZTA engineers inspect damage on the Karamea road post February flooding

NZTA engineers inspect damage on the Karamea road after the February flooding. Photo: Supplied / NZTA

Repairs ranged from extensive road reinstatement to minor clean up works.

Work to address the damage had been ongoing since February in conjunction with NZTA and the funding was another major step forward in the recovery for the district.

Cleine said the discussion about the future management of the special purpose road to Karamea was separate and ongoing.

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air