Two houses wait for eight hours to cross Queenstown's Kawarau Falls Bridge

House Removal operator Warren Willis had to wait eight hours to transfer two houses across Kawarau Falls Bridge in ...
NIKI DAVIES/SUPPLIED

House Removal operator Warren Willis had to wait eight hours to transfer two houses across Kawarau Falls Bridge in Queenstown because it was blocked by diggers.

A company taking two houses south had to wait eight hours to get them across a one-lane Queenstown bridge.

Kings House Removal operator Warren Willis said diggers were blocking access to Kawarau Falls Bridge at 3am on Thursday when the homes were being transported from Christchurch to Invercargill.

"Queenstown is a madhouse eh," he said.

The houses had to park up in Frankton about 2am until the diggers were removed at 10am.

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The team took a break and slept, Warren said.

It took 15 minutes to move the houses across the one-lane bridge. A new two-lane bridge is being built next to it.

Traffic was stopped about 10.30am and a few drivers seemed unhappy, Warren said.

"At 2am there was not a car on the road," Warren said.

King House Removal applied for a permit to move the oversized load, but contractors with diggers parked by the bridge access had nothing on their permit to indicate it.

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"It was not their problem," he said.

NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) senior project manager Phil Dowsett said the trucks arrived "unannounced and unexpected" at 7am. 

"Normally the pilot vehicle driver has to ensure that the way ahead is clear, with no obstructions as part of the permit they get to carry these large loads on state highways.

"Because the bridge contractor did not know of these loads in advance there was little they could do but remove the water filled barriers to the side of the road and relocate their diggers until the loads had passed through some hours later," Dowsett said.

NZTA and McConnell Dowell would follow up, Dowsett said.

Willis said it would be easier relocating houses when the $22 million two-lane bridge was completed.

"It will be better once the new bridge is open. There would not be any hold ups. It will be great," he said.

The houses were moved from Christchurch's red zone, Warren's brother, Grant Willis, said.

Homes were transported across Kawarau Falls Bridge "more often than you think".

It was normally done at night and went unnoticed, Grant said.

 - Stuff

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