South Westland’s Waiho River Bailey bridge will reopen to traffic around midday on Saturday, 13 April, says the NZ Transport Agency.
With delays this week due to rain and rising river levels, cutting off access to the river bed, the opening had to be pushed out from Friday evening to Saturday, says Moira Whinham, NZTA maintenance contract manager, West Coast.
The nearly 30-year-old Bailey bridge was destroyed in the 26 March flood that caused widespread infrastructure damage and a fatality in Westland.
Since then a team approach from multiple contractors, the NZ Defence Force’s army engineers, designers and the supportive local community in South Westland, has had all systems on go to get the new Bailey bridge in place as quickly as it was possible to do.
“People have been working extremely hard to get the bridge back over the river and reconnect the communities in South Westland,” says Whinham. “The Transport Agency is proud of the work done and the positive attitude everyone has brought to this urgent highway project. Thanks to everyone, especially the South Westland community.”
There will be an opening event/ribbon cutting on 13 April at 11am. Those keen to attend the opening on the Franz Josef side of the Waiho River should come prepared for a short outdoor event and blessing from Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio.
Traffic will be allowed across the bridge in each direction in turn, once the ceremony is completed. Please be prepared to queue in an orderly fashion to get across the single lane bridge. Please take care if you are parking near the bridge site, either side, and be prepared for a short walk.
After the Bailey bridge is open to traffic, there is more work to do so people should be prepared for a slightly slower journey for the next few weeks. The work will include sealing the approaches, reinstating guardrails, the pedestrian walkway and other work, which will involve closures of up to an hour.