20 Nov 2015

Cut-off residents welcome road completion

1:45 pm on 20 November 2015

Three weeks after the collapse of a bridge cut off 62 Upper Hutt homes, a makeshift road cutting through a forest has finally been completed.

Residents on Bridge Road in Birchville standing near their collapsed bridge over the Akatarawa River.

Residents on Bridge Road in Birchville standing near their collapsed bridge over the Akatarawa River. Photo: RNZ/Max Towle

Floodwaters damaged the middle pier of the crossing over the Akatarawa River in the suburb of Birchville.

The 3m wide, 1km long road will have traffic lights at either end and a speed limit of 20km/h.

Although it took a week longer than expected, Upper Hutt City Council infrastructure manager Lachlan Wallich said its construction team had done a terrific job.

"The road has gone through very difficult terrain - it's quite steep in places, there are sharp drop-offs to the river and some very hard rock. It's not been an easy job," he said.

Sealing of the new road has taken a week - during that time people were restricted to three journey times a day.

For the two weeks before that, they had to hike for an hour through the Akatarawa Forest.

Terri Fordham, who lives on bridge Road, said today was a massive relief.

"You're still limited to what you can do when you can only go out at 7.30am and come back at 5.30pm, even with the midday time," she said.

"We feel like we've been let out of jail after being under house arrest."

She said the experience had made the neighbourhood closer.

"People had to talk while they walked, instead of just driving past, so in that way it's been a good thing."

The bridge itself has been inspected and Mr Wallich said a decision on its future would be made within a few weeks.

"Engineers went out with a boat and were able to look at the centre pier and find out what happened," he said.

"The options can vary between a brand new bridge spanning the full width of the river, or a new pier in the middle."