The new Bailey bridge roll-out completed Wednesday afternoon, but until river levels drop, it cannot be permanently fastened in place.
With delays caused largely by rain and rising river levels, South Westland’s Waiho Bailey bridge will not be reopened until this weekend, says the NZ Transport Agency.
Friday evening was the earlier hoped-for estimate, but the day and time this weekend will be confirmed later this week. The bridge was destroyed in the 26 March flood that caused widespread infrastructure damage across Westland, and a fatality at a flooded river near Hokitika.
“Teams have worked hard to keep this project on track but last night’s and today’s rain and rapidly rising river levels have pushed this project beyond Friday,” says Moira Whinham, NZTA’s maintenance contract manager, West Coast.
While the bridge structure was successfully rolled across the bridge piers to the north bank on Wednesday, the raised river levels mean it cannot be fastened permanently until the river drops and work can start from the river bed. This work will take at least two days.
The bridge needs to be jacked, rocking rollers removed, new permanent bearings installed, and the whole structure safely fastened in place. The approaches also need to be completed once the bridge is positioned.
After the Bailey bridge is open to traffic, there is more work to do: sealing the approaches, reinstating guardrails, the pedestrian walkway and other work, which will involve closures of up to an hour.
The South Westland townships of Fox, Franz Josef, and Haast, are open for business and welcome visitors from each side of the Waiho in the lead up to the reconnection at the Waiho River.
The weather forecast for the next week is good for South Westland, with showers clearing on Thursday, allowing the river to drop.