Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has confirmed that State Highway 25A between Kōpū and Hikuai will be re-open to traffic in time for Christmas – a full three months earlier than anticipated.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Regional Manager of Infrastructure Delivery for Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Jo Wilton says the route will re-open by 20 December 2023, now that the decking is complete on the new 124 metre bridge, which spans the abyss that severed the highway in late January.
“Our team has done an amazing job, not only constructing the new bridge in record time, but at the same time we’ve invested an additional $25m to enable multiple crews to clear slips, replace the original undersized culvert, and undertake crucial road maintenance work along the rest of the length of SH25A to ensure the whole corridor is up to scratch, safe and more resilient.
“Getting this maintenance work completed now also means we can avoid further work and disruption for drivers during the busy summer period,” Ms Wilton says.
The new Taparahi Bridge on State Highway 25A between Kōpū and Hikuai has been constructed in less than seven months after the road was washed away by severe weather earlier this year.
Ms Wilton says while there is still a lot of work to do to finish the bridge by Christmas, getting traffic across as soon as possible has always been the aim for Waka Kotahi.
“We’re thrilled to be able to announce that the two sides of the Coromandel Peninsula will be reconnected once again in time for the summer holidays, with traffic able to cross the SH25A bridge by 20 December.
“We know how difficult the highway closure has been on local families, businesses, schools and communities and the impact it’s had on visitors to the region. That’s why, along with our builders, McConnell Dowell and Fulton Hogan JV, we’ve pulled out all the stops to deliver the fastest and most resilient solution for the Coromandel.
“With the build beginning in June, getting it open in less than seven months is a huge achievement given a bridge of this type would normally take 12 to 14 months to construct.
“We’ve built the bridge in record time by accelerating our work programme, with teams working 24 hour shifts both on site and offsite at Eastbridge in Napier, where the steel girders were manufactured.
“In addition, we used a bridge design we already had and repurposed steel plates which had been purchased for the Minden bridge on Tauranga’s Takitimu North Link project, meaning we didn’t have a lengthy wait for steel to come in from overseas.”
With finishing works still ongoing, the bridge will open under traffic management at a reduced speed. The project team will be completing drainage and planting, so the project won’t be fully complete for a few more months. This work won’t require the road to be closed, though traffic management will be required from time to time.
The cost of the bridge, once everything is finished, is expected to be approximately $43m, under the $50m estimate.
“We’d like to thank everyone who is working so hard to get this bridge open by Christmas and our special thanks to the Coromandel community for their patience and support. We know it’s been a tough year and we hope this new bridge is the gift that helps get the Peninsula back on its feet,” Ms Wilton says.
A timelapse video of the Taparahi Bridge construction can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKjtpCyPDmQ
Before and after photos of the bridge site are attached.
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