Beaming in at Beaumont


While the rain fell hard over Otago this week, work continued apace at the new Beaumont Bridge site in Clutha District.

A key milestone for the SH8 bridge over the Clutha River/Mata-Au was reached this week, says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, the bridge funder.

Colin MacKay, Principal Project Manager for Waka Kotahi, says on Thursday the first steel bridge beams* arrived. Next week, another helpful progress point, the temporary trestle over the river, which will be used to build the new bridge, will be completed.

“The first two beams left Napier on Monday and arrived on Thursday which was good going in a week of demanding weather,” says Mr MacKay. “All 20 main beams are being prefabricated in Napier, ahead of the truck trip 1200km south to Beaumont, a journey that could take up to five days. Two beams a week are being transported to the site over coming weeks.”

Above: The first two steel beams arrive in Beaumont on Thursday from Hawke’s Bay.

If you find yourself behind a truck like this in coming days, take it easy, the driver will pull over when a spot comes up.

Mr MacKay says several different components make up the main bridge beams, which vary in size and weight, creating spans of up to 40 metres. The beams will be stored on site until they are positioned on the new bridge structure from late September.

Once they reach the South Island, the trucks will travel south on State Highway 1 from Picton to Clarks Junction, just south of Milton. From there, they head inland on SH8 for the final 60km of their journey to Beaumont. A similar system has been successfully used over the last five years to move large beams to the sites of several new South Island highway bridges.

“While the truck drivers will pull over where possible throughout their journey, people need to build potential delays of up to 20 minutes into their travel plans.  Waka Kotahi thanks everyone for their patience while these bridge beams are being transported over the next few weeks,” says Nicole Felts, Waka Kotahi Journey Manager.

Bridge facts

  • The new, two-lane bridge will be 195 metres long, formed by curved steel girders, supported by four piers sitting about 12 metres above the average river level.
  • The weathering steel beams (with a rusty look) are high strength structural steel which form a corrosion-inhibiting surface and do not require maintenance. They continue to “weather” where they are positioned resulting in minimal maintenance costs and a more economic long-life bridge solution.
  • Safety barriers will be fitted on the road approaches.
  • It incorporates a shared walking and cycling path.
  • Designed to modern earthquake standards, the new bridge will safely connect people, products, and places.
  • Construction started in January 2022 and is expected to be completed by bridge builder HEB Construction in late 2023.

The existing bridge

The 137-year-old existing single lane bridge forms an important link on SH8 between Dunedin, Central Otago, and Queenstown, but it is no longer well suited to today’s higher traffic volumes, or the larger and heavier trucks regularly using this route.

*A beam bridge is a strong, horizontal structure that rests on two end supports, and carries traffic. Steel-reinforced concrete and steel are two common choices for bridge beam construction.