A giant step towards reopening the Waikato River crossing at The Narrows was taken yesterday with a 52-metre-long Bailey bridge lifted into position on State Highway 21 or Airport Rd, Tamahere.
The Bailey bridge, immediately downstream of the existing bridge, is supported by four 12m concrete piles and a concrete beam on top.
A timber deck has been installed, with a coating of seal now being placed on top. The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) hopes to have the road open to traffic by Labour Weekend, reports the Waikato Times.
The existing highway on both sides of the river is also being widened and new safety rails and additional street lighting are also being installed.
“It went very well,” said agency state highway manager Kaye Clark.
“We are pleased with progress. It is all looking very good but we are still hoping the weather will be kind to us.”
The bridge will operate as a single lane and take loads of up to 44 tonnes, with anything heavier being required to still take an alternative route.
Mrs Clark was mindful of the inconvenience that the closure of the Narrows Bridge had caused.
“We are aware of the impact this is having on businesses and the community and are going as fast as we can. We thank people for their patience.”
Meanwhile, work is also continuing to reinforce the riverbanks to protect the existing bridge from further erosion.
Although river levels have dropped they are still too high to complete a full inspection of the banks. Divers recently tried to carry out an inspection but the river currents were too strong and too dangerous to continue.
(Photo: Peter Drury, Waikato Times)