Nelson City Council has started work to restore full access to Cable Bay Road, fixing three major slips that were caused by the August 2022 weather event.
These slips damaged the road, causing it to be single lane in places, and are challenging to repair with significant drop offs and unstable grounds.
Nelson Mayor Nick Smith says repairing these three major slips is expected to cost $1 million and take four months.
“It is essential work to restore two-way access and improve resilience to future storm events. This project in another important step in Nelson’s recovery from the August 2022 storm. I acknowledge the disruption this work will cause the Cable Bay community and thank them for their ongoing support.
“This isn’t the first time residents have faced disruption from road repairs with extensive work required after the 2011 storm. It is encouraging that all 28 sites repaired in 2011 sustained the 2022 storm. This provides confidence that Council is progressively improving the resilience of this winding road through difficult terrain,” Mayor Nick says.
Group Infrastructure Manager Alec Louverdis says the project is one of the more complicated problems Council has solved since August 2022.
“Two days of heavy rain washed sediment down the hillside, caking the road in mud. This was the first challenge contractors faced. Following the clean-up we carried out extensive surveying (revealing one slip was 22m in length), emergency repairs and ensuring the damaged sites were safe. Cyclone Gabrielle meant that geotech resources were thin on the ground, but we still managed to investigate the most cost-effective repair for each slip and complete detailed designs.
“The repairs will require contractors to dig benches into the hillside for their teams to work on. For the first slip they’ll use concrete beams and blocks to stabilize the land. For the other two sites they’ll drive timber poles in from the road to act as a retaining wall. They will then drill ground anchors into the rock. The road will be rebuilt and laid once the hillside is stable.”
Once a contractor was awarded the project, a community meeting was held to discuss the road closure. It was decided that the start date would be after Waitangi Day.
“As a business we are affected by the closure,” says Cable Bay Cafe owner Annette Meyer.
“It was a positive sign that we could sit down with Council and the contractor to discuss the details and dates of the road closures. We appreciate that they were willing to move the date to be outside the school holiday break to minimise impact on our business. Visitors, particularly campervans, have commented on the traffic lights and narrow sections caused by the slips. This road is not just a way for residents to get from A to B, but it’s our livelihood.
“What we really want people to know is that you can come visit Cable Bay after 3pm and on the weekend.”
Council has worked closely with the contractor and local residents/businesses to find opening times for Cable Bay Road that balance everyone's needs. It was agreed that the road would reopen every day between 12noon - 1pm and reopen in full every day at 3pm. The road would also remain open all day Saturday and Sunday. The closure would be in place till Mid-June from Maori Pa Road. The work sites are further past this point, but it's the easiest section for motorists to turn around before encountering the narrow road to Cable Bay.
Council have allowed for flexibility when and where possible, says Louverdis.
“We heard from residents, businesses and event organisers about upcoming activities they would like the road to be open for. There’s a music festival and mountain biking event in March. To accommodate, contactors will leave the road open.”