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Beam placement to begin at Waikanae River bridge

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One of New Zealand’s largest crawler cranes is set to begin lifting bridge beams into place on the Waikanae River bridge next month as part of the Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway project.

To ensure public safety, two closures of the southern river path are planned – the first for two days and the second for five days. The final dates for the closures cannot yet be confirmed because the crane is being shipped to New Zealand from Europe and will need to obtain border clearances. The Transport Agency will announce the exact dates of the closures as soon as the information is available. 

The first closure will allow the 400 tonne crawler crane to lift two 150 tonne precast crosshead beams into place on the bridge piers. 

During the second closure, the crane will lift the first span of bridge beams into place. These are the longest and heaviest precast ‘Super Tee’ beams to be manufactured in New Zealand, each weighing up to 95 tonnes. A river path diversion will be in place at times on the southern bank so construction staff can build a reinforced lifting pad for the crane to sit on. 

Project Manager Alan Orange said final closure dates will be well-publicised through media, and advertised on information boards located on the river paths. River path users will be able to view the crane working from the river path on the northern bank, which will remain open. 

“Throughout the bridge construction, we have worked hard to keep the river paths open, but we have very little room on the southern bank, so brief closures are inevitable. If we complete beam placement early, we will reopen the river path early.” 

After the crane has finished lifting the first span of beams at Waikanae River bridge, it will move to Te Moana Road to lift the crosshead beams into place for the Te Moana Interchange. It will return to the Waikanae River bridge in May to lift the remaining four spans of beams into place from the northern bank. 

The 400 tonne crawler crane is one of the largest in New Zealand. It will require approximately 20 trucks to bring the various parts of the crane to the site. To place the first span of bridge beams, the crane will be set up with its standard counterweight of 135 tonnes. However to place the river span from the northern bank the crane will require a further 180 tonnes of counterweight to increase the lift capacity. 

Mr Orange also urged horse riders to be aware of the possibility of loud noises at the bridge site for the next month because large quantities of rock are to be moved and placed around the bridge piers. 

The 180m-long Waikanae River bridge will be the largest structure on the Expressway. It is designed to withstand 100 year floods and 1-in-2500-year earthquakes.

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