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Restrictions on Red Bridge to be lifted

Red Bridge 2Current weight restrictions on Red Bridge will soon be lifted after thorough investigations and testing showed the bridge is strong enough to carry heavier loads.

The weight restrictions were put in place after new NZTA rules allowing heavier vehicles on the roads came into effect on December 1 which stipulated that under-capacity bridges were to be restricted. Council has been working to assess the strength of the district’s bridge stock to safely carry the heavier vehicles, and consulting with the community to identify priority bridges.

The initial investigation showed that the Red Bridge, located between Waimarama and Hastings, did not have enough capacity to support the new traffic demands placed on the bridge.

To abide by regulations and as a safety measure, speed and/or weight restrictions were imposed on Red Bridge and all other bridges which lacked capacity while detailed assessments were completed to confirm the allowable weight on each bridge.

Red Bridge was identified as a top priority by the community and further investigations were fast-tracked with an aim to fully reopen the bridge as soon as possible and hopefully avoid significant upgrade costs.

A leading-edge software model of Red Bridge was built to understand the behavior and material characteristics used in the previous investigation, as well as to understand the demands placed on the bridge by the new NZTA rules.

The results of this software model were verified in April with on-site testing using a 46-tonne truck, along with further tests investigating the strength of the steel used inside the bridge beams to increase the accuracy of what was known about the bridge’s material properties.

Council has undertaken two additional tests to monitor existing cracks on the bridge and the bridge will be closely monitored over the next six months after the current weight restrictions have been lifted.

Deputy Mayor Tania Kerr says all the tests came back positive, which is great news for our community.  “Taking the time to thoroughly conduct the testing confirms the bridge will not need strengthening, which could have cost approximately $2.6million and would have taken another year to complete. This would have been a major undertaking for the rural community both with the ongoing increase in transportation costs as well as the likely increase in rates.”

Mrs Kerr says the community can now be confident that Red Bridge can be used safely.  “The weight restrictions were necessary so Council could be assured that the community would not be at risk from using Red Bridge.  We would like to thank the users of the bridge, the transport industry and the surrounding community for their patience and understanding while investigations were carried out.”

The current weight restriction on Red Bridge will be lifted within the next two weeks.

12 December 2019

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