Key road link in rural Hawke's Bay to reopen tomorrow

A key road link in rural Hawke's Bay is one step closer to reopening tomorrow, reconnecting isolated rural settlements to larger centres.

Rissington, inland from Napier, was particularly hard hit in the cyclone, with the bridge over the Mangaone River washed out.

Now, a Bailey bridge is being put together on local roads after days of construction.

"It's thousands of pieces that have got to be manually bolted together and then slid out into place and that forms your bridge," Fulton Hogan's Smiley Cogswell explained.

In the meantime, locals have been using an inflatable boat and a zipline to shuttle themselves and items across.

A hurriedly-constructed track over the river was used in the interim.

"It's only four-wheel drives, really, and we can't take stock trucks or logging trucks over it so this is going to create an absolute lifeline," Rissington resident Katie Absolom said.

She said the new bridge provides "a huge sense of relief" for the community.

"It's pretty exciting to finally see it extended out and reaching the other side. It's fabulous."

The bridge is just one of five Bailey bridges being built in the region, with the Hastings District Council now looking for more support to replace other bridges damaged in the floods.

"Our understanding is there is a limited quantity of Bailey bridges in New Zealand, something in the order of 450 metres. We have lost a couple of kilometres' length of bridge," the council's Craig Thew said.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said the Government is working with Waka Kotahi to manage the need for more bridges.

"They've assured me that they do have sufficient supply to meet the need that has come through from local government and from NEMA, but they will also be sourcing additional supply to rebuild their stocks," he said.

The bridge is set to open on Friday.


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