Unseen workers taking next step for Pukete bridge
It is a view of the Waikato River that is uniquely beautiful, and it is the backdrop for crews working on Hamilton's Pukete Bridge clip-on.
Over the next month, a crew of up to 12 men will start attaching framing pairs to the southern side of the bridge to support a new 3-metre-wide pedestrian and cycle path.
A 13-tonne crane will lower the 2.6-tonne structures over the side of the bridge while crew members under and inside the bridge will fix the frames into place.
Suspended under the bridge on a network of scaffolding, the workers will enjoy a spectacular view of the Waikato River beneath their feet.
To date, 18 framing pairs have been attached to the bridge.
Hamilton City Council city development manager Andrew Parsons said another 58 framing pairs were still to be attached, and the work came after months of intricate planning.
Hours have been spent scanning and mapping the bridge to locate reinforced steel and post tensioning tendons.
"It may look like we haven't been doing anything but a lot of work has been going on in terms of design and fabrication work," Mr Parsons said.
Underneath the bridge, the full extent of the planning becomes evident with drill holes carefully marked out.
Mr Parsons said the curvature of the bridge surface plus the location of strengthening steel meant every set of holes was unique.
Despite the challenging aspects of the bridge-widening project, the council was working to have the clip-on structure completed before Christmas. Once the clip-on is constructed, the existing bridge will be converted to provide two lanes of traffic in each direction along Wairere Dr.
The four-laning of Wairere Dr between Pukete Rd and River Rd is also scheduled for completion by the year's end.
Council project development manager Martin Mould said yellow-and-blue panels would be fixed to pedestrian handrails on the bridge clip-on, symbolising kowhai flowers and the sky.
"It's just one way we can incorporate art into the bridge at no extra cost," he said.
West of the bridge, a Maori proverb commemorating the 17th century warrior Hotumauea has been cast into the concrete retaining wall above Wairere Dr.
When finished, the Hamilton Ring Road is expected to provide a crucial link between Hamilton's south and north sides and ease peak-time congestion.
"It will help reinforce our road hierarchy and ensure the right traffic are on the right roads," Mr Parsons said.
"At the moment a lot of traffic is travelling through our residential areas."
In its present form, the $74 million ring road project is expected to be completed by late 2013.
The project includes the four-laning of Wairere Dr from Pukete Rd through to Resolution Dr, with traffic lights at the Pukete Rd and River Rd intersections.
The project also includes the extension of Wairere Dr, from the Crosby Rd-Gordonton Rd roundabout, south over the east coast main trunk railway line to connect with Ruakura Rd.
In addition, the Peachgrove Rd-Ruakura Rd-Te Aroha St intersection is being upgraded and widened.
Hamilton City Council has allocated funding in its 10-year plan to allow the completion of the ring road all the way to Cobham Dr but has yet to decide its timing.