The Narrows Bridge across the Waikato River has been closed until further notice.
The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) today closed the bridge, a main route within Tamahere and to the Hamilton International Airport, as a precautionary safety measure due to the potential for further erosion.
The bridge on State Highway 21 was reduced to a single lane on August 31 to reduce loads on it while investigations were undertaken to assess river bank erosion levels in its vicinity.
The closure means people travelling to Hamilton International Airport on SH21 are advised to allow approximately 30 additional minutes for their journey. The recommended alternate route to and from the airport during the closure is via SH3 (Ohaupo Road). Detour signs are in place.
NZTA Acting State Highway Manager Michelle Te Wharau said the agency had been unable to continue monitoring the erosion today due to rising river levels. With further adverse weather forecast the decision had been made to close the bridge because of the potential for more erosion.
The closure will be reassessed when the water levels drop to a point where further analysis of the river banks can be undertaken. It is hoped this analysis can be undertaken within a week, but this will be dependent on rainfall and river levels.
“We recognise that this bridge is an important link for both the travelling public and nearby residents. We will do everything we can to reopen it again as soon as we consider it safe,” Mrs Te Wharau said.
The Narrows Bridge, built in 1940, was one of the earliest in New Zealand to use reinforced concrete girders supported by an arch. The bridge, which has a New Zealand Historic Places Trust Category 2 rating, replaced an earlier one, built of wood in 1879.
(Waikato Times photo)