March start for work on Kurow bridges
Work will start early next month on the new $18.5 million replacement Waitaki Bridges.
The dilapidated 132-year-old twin bridges across the Waitaki River on State Highway 82 have been plagued by closures during the past few years.
The project makes up part of the New Zealand Transport Agency's (NZTA) $1 billion programme of investment in Canterbury's transport network from 2012 to 2015.
It expected the two new bridges will take 18 months to build.
NZTA southern regional director Jim Harland said the bridges had reached the end of their life.
''These single-lane bridges were opened in 1881 and, with a combined length of 762 metres, were one of the largest wooden structures of their kind in New Zealand.
''The predominantly timber structures have been deteriorating and are no longer suitable to serve the needs of the local community, being vulnerable to closure during peak river flows and unable to carry over-sized agricultural machinery.''
The two new bridges will be built immediately downstream from the existing bridges and each will have a barrier-separated pathway for cyclists and pedestrians.
''This is an important route, not only for the local community to access services and for the distribution of supplies to the surrounding rural community, but also for the growing number of tourists and visitors heading inland through Lindis Pass or the Mackenzie Country,'' Mr Harland said.
Contractor McConnell Dowell Constructors Ltd would be on site early next month to begin construction.
The bridges are expected to open late 2014.
The Timaru Herald