Roadworks hit Moeraki economy

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Work that could eventually result in the reopening of Haven St in Moeraki is continuing.

However, there is still concern among business owners about the impact its closure is having on the seaside community.

Drainage clearing work below the road started on February 5, led by project manager Bruce Wheeler, members of the Moeraki community and the Waitaki District Council.

A several-hundred-metre-long stretch of Haven St has been closed for around 18 months, as a result of a major slip after heavy rain.

With the main route into the town closed, an alternative route was put in place along Tenby St.

However, the decision angered many locals who have concerns about safety and the effect the closure has on businesses.

Moeraki Village Holiday Park owner Robbie Mitchell is pleased to see work is under way, but said the longer the road was closed the more Moeraki would suffer economically.

“Our main concern is still that people are getting lost; it’s been dreadful … all the other businesses have been affected too.

“We’re probably not getting the people in here with the road being shut. They’re bypassing the village.”

He also voiced concerns about vehicle and pedestrian safety on he alternative route.

The council’s original plan was to establish a single-lane shingle road with minimal drainage at a cost of $100,000.

However, thanks to donations of money and equipment by the Moeraki community, more significant work can be carried out.

Waitaki District Council roading engineer Graeme Butler said the council would have a better idea of whether further work would go ahead when it had assessed how effective the draining work had been.

“At the moment they’ve done quite a lot of excavation to drain the toe of the slope. The pond is draining and the hope is that we can get some firm ground … the challenge is to get more drainage on the hillside to get some good support at the toe of the slope.”

Mr Butler said good progress had been made. However, a final decision on any future work was entirely dependent on how stage one of the project, paid for by the council and the Moeraki community, takes shape.

“We will make a decision as to whether to progress it later. We need to know that we have a good chance of success and are not having to reinstate the road every two to three years.”

If stage one is a success, stage two will involve securing the slope below the road. Stage three will see a road designed and then built.

Mr Butler said the council would continue to keep residents notified of the project’s progress.

By Daniel Birchfield

PHOTO: SUPPLIED – Drainage work at Haven St.