A key link in the North Island's freight route will open next month with the completion of the $24.3 million Atiamuri replacement bridge.
The new bridge is about 75 metres upstream of the current bridge on State Highway 1, and 40 kilometres north of Lake Taupo.
The Government gave replacing the 51-year-old Atiamuri Bridge a high priority due to the limited life of the structure.
A ceremony marking the completion of the replacement bridge will be held on March 16. It is expected to be opened to traffic on March 18.
Progress on the 19-month bridge project has been captured by three web-cameras, each of which has a time-lapse feature.
The new bridge features two 3.5m-wide lanes, and a shared pedestrian and cycle walkway.
Speaking earlier, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said the Atiamuri project was essential for improving traffic flow on one of New Zealand's key freight routes.
Freight traffic is expected to increase by up to 75 per cent over that part of SH1 in the next 25 years. Once the new bridge is opened, the old bridge will be removed.
NZ Transport Agency acting projects service manager Peter Murphy said a 50kmh speed limit applied to the existing Atiamuri Bridge. It is regularly monitored to ensure its safety.
The bridge project also included realignment of SH1 north of the bridge, an upgrade of the SH1/SH30 intersection and construction of a 1.5km northbound passing lane running between the SH30 intersection and Hatupatu's Rock.
- Waikato Times