New Awatere Bridge 'opens' today

Heaven is a new bridge for residents of Seddon delighted that traffic lights and long queues are a thing of the past.

The new Awatere Bridge (left) was to be officially opened at 3.30pm today with transport minister Annette King, mayor Alistair Sowman, Ontrack, Transit and iwi representatives to attend.

"We reckon it takes about 10 minutes off our trip to town. It's heaven," said Marie Flowerday of Seddon Country Store.

Mrs Flowerday said traffic no longer came through the town in bunches which could only improve traffic safety on the highway as drivers should not become so frustrated finding themselves stuck behind others in the queue for the bridge.

The store would be run on skeleton staff this afternoon to allow most staff members to get along to the official opening, she said.

Broadbridge Transport owner Weir Broadbridge said he'd had great feedback from his truckdrivers, who reported that the new bridge had cut 15 to 20 minutes time off a round trip to Christchurch.

"The boys are really happy with it, they say it's just a pleasure. The old bridge got so rough, they were just crawling over it. It was a terrible thing in the end," he said.

Marlborough's $15 million bridge, which has been almost two years in the making, opened to motorists last month. The project was not scheduled for completion until next year.

Marlborough Roads manager Frank Porter has said the project came in below budget.

Mr Porter said there was plenty of space for public to attend the opening, which would involve speeches and a ribbon cutting. Efforts would be made to ensure the bridge wasn't closed to traffic for long during the ceremony, he said.

The Marlborough Express