Final investigations into the amount of strengthening needed to enable Red Bridge to carry heavier loads are being carried out next week (April 10 and 11).
There will be delays of up to 15 minutes to traffic while the work is undertaken, between 9am and 3pm on each of the two days.
The bridge has been weight restricted since new NZTA rules allowing heavier vehicles on the roads came into effect on December 1. That has meant large truck and trailer units have had to be uncoupled and taken across the bridge separately – the trailer towed by a tractor.
The amount of strengthening required on 31 of the district’s bridges is being investigated by Hastings District Council.
The decision on the order of work has been made after consultation with rural communities and the heavy transport industry.
Red Bridge, between Waimarama and Hastings, has been identified as a top priority, and therefore decisions on what work needs to be carried out needs to be finalised. Some tests have been able to be undertaken without further inconveniencing traffic, however the last two tests (load bearing and material testing) will mean traffic delays of up to a maximum 15 minutes at a time.
The tests will show whether, with minor improvements, the current weight restriction can be lifted. If the results are negative, the bridge will have to undergo major strengthening work and the weight restriction will remain until the work is completed.
Once the site work is completed, the results will need to be analysed, with the final report expected to be received by Council by the end of May.
“We are, of course, hopeful that the results will confirm that with some alterations we will be able to allow truck and trailer units to again cross the bridge,” said deputy mayor Tania Kerr.
Mrs Kerr had been closely involved with the discussions with the rural communities and businesses most affected by the change in rules. “We really appreciate the effort those communities and organisations have put into helping us decide which bridges are critical, and the order in which the work should be addressed. Now that we have that information, we are very grateful for their patience as we continue to work our way through the strengthening process.”
Strengthening all of the identified bridges is estimated to cost $10.5m and the vast bulk of the work will be considered for budget approval through the coming Long Term Plan process. However, some work is able to be done from within existing bridge maintenance budgets, including the strengthening of three bridges on Taihape Rd, and the investigations of Red Bridge.
12 December 2019
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