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Thursday, 25 April 2019 11:50 am

Capital’s new south coast sea walls get their first work-out

WET WORK: One of the emergency workers can be seen shovelling debris into a truck.

WET WORK: One of the emergency workers shovelling debris into a truck.

WELLINGTON’S new but incomplete sea walls had their first big test in the storm battering the south coast.

Winds reached speeds as high as 96 km/h last night at Wellington Airport, and they were expected to continue to rise this afternoon, said Metservice spokesman John Law.

Mareara Kiel, who co-owns the The Bach Cafe on the Esplanade in Island Bay, said the road had been littered with rocks and logs this morning, after the ocean came over the sea wall on Tuesday night.

“The winds down here have been huge, not as strong as last June’s storm but still really something.”

Moa Point, which runs around Wellington Airport, was closed after a slip last night, and has only just been cleared this afternoon, according to emergency worker Tamati Cook.

He said that crews had been working since 1am clearing debris.

Wellington City Council expects to spend $5 million on repairs and improvements to the capital’s coastal defences in the next three to four years.

Last year’s storm in June left many south coast residents devastated, as the ocean invaded their homes, leaving behind a trail of debris.

Over one hundred seawalls were damaged in last year’s storm, and the focus this year was to battle the erosion to roads in high priority areas on the south coast.

UNDER REPAIR: One of the damaged sea walls still being worked on.

UNDER REPAIR: One of the damaged sea walls still being worked on.

Faiz Tawfeek, the team leader of the council’s roading operations, recently estimated that work on high priority area’s around Shoreland Park, Karaka Bay and a large area around the esplanade would be concluded by mid-March.

These developments are thanks to $874,000 in additional funding allocated by the council to combat the erosion caused by last year’s storm.

“Although unlikely, there is always a possibility of another storm,” Mr Tawfeek said. “What we’re trying to build here is something that can withstand such high pressures and prevent any future damage.”

Island Bay Festival Co-ordinator, Fran De Gregorio, was happy with how the council engaged with the community in the sea walls project, she said.

“During the festival last month, the council set up a stall and encouraged community input on development plans in the area.

“As the festival coordinator I was glad to see them get involved, and as a resident of Island Bay I think it’s fantastic that they engaged with the community,” Mrs Gregorio said.

One possibility is the removal of the road between Shorland Park and the damaged section of the sea wall.

Although Mrs Gregorio had some concerns that removal of the road could cause traffic on Reef Street, she said it was good  the council was raising awareness of the options available.

Nicci Wood, a senior advisor in infrastructure planning at the council, said that the Great Seawall Debate stall had been a big success.

Votes tallied from the event showed 52 in favour of keeping to the status quo, while 120 residents voted to explore alternatives, such as the removal of the road.

A consultant has been hired to report on the feasibility of alternatives, taking into account benefits, costs, traffic considerations as well as community feedback, with a report expected to be presented to councilors in May, Mrs Wood said.

 

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is a journalist studying at Whitireia. Previously he attended Otago University where he got a BA in Communications and Philosophy.
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