A truck and trailer blocking Cove Rd, where heavy vehicles are now banned.
Roading chaos continues in Northland, as truck and trailer units are officially banned from the main State Highway 1 detour via Cove Rd in Waipū.
Graeme MacDonald, Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group controller, formally directed that truck and trailer units were banned from using the Waipū Cove Road between Mangawhai and Waipū.
MacDonald said despite requests by authorities for truck and trailer units not to use the road, some had done so anyway.
Cove Rd is the main detour for light vehicles after the section of SH1 between Brynderwyn and Waipū was closed due to slips when Cyclone Gabrielle hit.
The ban came after the road was blocked for several hours yesterday when trucks became stuck on a sharp bend on the road.
Waipū resident Chris Street, who was heading to Mangawhai to pick up donated goods for the SPCA when he was held up by the truck blockage, was happy with the decision to ban truck and trailer units from the route.
He said he had seen “a hell of a lot” of trucks on the route.
“I understand the truckies are in a difficult position, but at the same time you need to prioritise the basics of life, being able to actually travel and get the emergency services through.”
Whangārei MP Emily Henderson said she was “delighted” Northland Civil Defence agreed to step in and give police the power to keep heavy vehicles off the road, as the council did not have the right bylaw in place to be able to do so.
“While I sympathise with truckies under time pressure, at the moment, we all need to be careful in the use of fragile shared resources,” she said.
Truck drivers have previously been asked by police and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency not to use the road and to instead detour via SH12/SH14 through Dargaville.
A police spokeswoman said officers were anecdotally aware of heavy vehicles using the Cove Rd/Mangawhai detour despite previous warnings, and urged truck drivers to avoid the route.
Don Wilson, owner of OnRoad Transport and former chairman of the National Road Carriers Association, said the diversion added a huge amount of time to truckies’ journeys – as much as two hours for a return trip from Whangārei to Auckland.
“It’s impacting our business because we’re probably going to have to put more resources into our business in Northland to maintain the same level of service and to keep our drivers operating within their drive time.”
Wilson said logging truck companies had even been asked to stop operating due to the fragile state of the roads.
“It’s their livelihood, and they can’t afford to be sitting down, doing nothing all day.”
There is no timeline yet for the re-opening of SH1 from Brynderwyn to Waipū, but a Waka Kotahi spokeswoman said geotechnical engineers had been assessing the road over the last few days. When this was completed, the agency expected to have a timeframe for re-opening.
A number of local roads throughout the region remain closed. A Kaipara District Council spokeswoman said it would take years to recover from the roading damage caused by the cyclone.
The closure of SH1 had put “huge pressure” on local roads in both the Kaipara and Whangārei districts, she said.
“All of these roads being used as local detours have suffered their own varying degrees of damage from the storm, and are now experiencing increased amounts of traffic due to the SH1 closure.”
A Whangārei District Council roading spokeswoman also said bypass routes were being damaged with the additional loading, and temporary repairs were being carried out daily to keep roads safe.