14 Jul 2015

Storm damaged Cable Bay road reopens

6:34 pm on 14 July 2015

The only road serving a community in north Nelson is now officially open, almost four years after it was largely destroyed in a storm.

Nelson's Cable Bay Road is officially reopened.

The official reopening of Cable Bay Road north of Nelson. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese and city councillors opened Cable Bay Road this morning, marking the end of a project that has cost more than $3 million of ratepayer and Government funds.

The damage was caused by flooding that struck the region in December 2011. The storms gouged hillsides, swept away houses in Golden Bay and destroyed several more homes in Nelson city.

Ms Reese, who was a city councillor at the time, said she recalled the agony of those few days of constant rain.

Cable Bay residents were stranded for days by a series of mudslides along the 9km road, parts of which were washed away.

Mark Dawson, a geotechnical engineer and Cable Bay resident, said the scale of the challenge to repair the road was significant, but living through the damage was tough.

His own household was cut off from power, telephone and water, and had to wait for emergency supplies that were eventually brought in by helicopter and boat.

"It was a major event for us. We identified 28 [slip] sites, and each had its own challenge. It had to be detailed separately and at the same time we had to come up with designs contractors could use from one site to the next.

Multiple landslides destroyed Cable Bay Road in 2011.

Multiple serious landslides destroyed Cable Bay Road in December 2011. Photo: Supplied: Tim Cuff

"We had a few teething problems on the first few sites, but by the final sites it was easy as," Mr Dawson said.

He said while it might seem a long time between then and now, each stage of the recovery process needed a lot of detailed work and effort.

It took almost a year to go through the design process, the council then had to get funding, ground conditions had to be investigated, and then residents also had to be consulted.

Because of a culturally sensitive area near an important estuary, local iwi also needed to be consulted.

Mr Dawson said they also had to work around the main fibre optic cable joining the North and South islands, which runs the length of the road. He said that required extensive trial drilling along the road.

The contract then went to tender, and work started in the spring of 2013. Mr Dawson said it was completed on time, and on budget.

Another resident, Gerrie Young, who has lived in Cable Bay for 16 years and was a regular holiday maker before then, was stranded in her home for several days.

She lived on emergency supplies dropped by helicopter and stored in a neighbouring property, which residents were able to help themselves to.

She said the road, which residents have wanted improved for a long time, was now "better than ever".

The public now have full access to the popular seaside area.