Hawke's Bay farmers relieved as freight resumes moving on SH5

A key route into Hawke's Bay has reopened to critical freight services after Cyclone Gabrielle damaged it.

State Highway 5 between Napier and Taupō remains closed to general traffic, but every weekday, there are now piloted convoys in and out.

The first day of freight convoys was a welcome sight for farmers who were desperate to move stock.

Mark Harris from Sheep and Beef New Zealand says stock moving will help ease the stress on communities.

"To start to see the stock going out, mentally, that brings anxiety down, takes a bit of pressure off. It’s the crucial time to move stock before winter sets in," Harris said.

The route is one that many truck drivers know well, but today it was a completely different experience for many witnessing the damage.

Hawke's Bay farmer Daniel Herries told 1News it was a big day for the community to see things moving again.

"It's massive for us. It's a step towards normality," he said. "It's also cash flow at a time where we're really lucky we've got all our stock."

Work on State Highway 2, north of Napier, is also progressing. Waka Kotahi regional manager Jaclyn Hankin says it's still months away from being fully reopened but that there was good news for locals.

"We are planning to this week open up for residents and then essential services into Tūtira, Putorino, Waikare," she said.

"There's still going to be a number of temporary speed restrictions and one-way areas along key state highways for months and years to come because the scale is so significant."

Hankin says Waka Kotahi aims to reopen State Highway 5 before the end of March, but warns that it will take years to fully restore all roads in the region.

She said SH5 would be reassessed after each freight convoy trip.

“We'll do that for a few days, and we'll need to assess the road after each of those convoys, to see how it's held up.

"Then we've got some safety assessments happening later this week. That will determine the plan for opening, but we are aiming for an opening before the end of March."


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