Historic West Coast bridge replaced

Last updated 08:00 11/12/2009
REPLACED: The original 120-year-old wooden, single lane bridge which crossed the Arahura River for both State Highway 6 and the Hokitika branch railway line.
REPLACED: The original 120-year-old wooden, single lane bridge which crossed the Arahura River for both State Highway 6 and the Hokitika branch railway line.

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A new $25 million bridge for cars and trains on the West Coast officially opens today.

The road-rail structure replaces a 120-year-old wooden, single lane bridge which crossed the Arahura River for both State Highway 6 and the Hokitika branch railway line.

KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn said the new bridge was completed several months earlier than expected, which was a testament to those involved in the complex construction.

"This hasn't been a typical rail bridge project - instead we've created a single-track railway, a two-lane road and a pedestrian/cycle way all on the same foundations."

NZ Transport Agency regional director Mark Yaxley said about 3500 vehicles used the bridge each day so the road was kept open (except for brief periods) as the bridge was built.

Construction, which started in the middle of last year, included forming new guide banks to reduce flood risks. The bridge was also raised to allow bigger floods underneath.

A small heritage park, containing a single span from the original bridge, will be opened nearby early next year.

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- NZPA

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