Construction of a two-lane roundabout that will eventually link the new State Highway 25 Kopu Bridge with the State Highway 26 Ngati Maru Highway, between Thames and Paeroa, is substantially completed.
NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) Project Services Manager Bryce Carter said completion of the roundabout will ensure the bridge project does not slow down Christmas/New Year holiday traffic heading to and from the Coromandel Peninsula. Traffic is already using the straight through routes on either side of the roundabout, but the roundabout cannot begin operating as a full intersection until the approach roads and new bridge are finished.
New concrete kerbs, footpaths and accessways to businesses and homes have been constructed along SH26 as part of the project. North of the roundabout, a low retaining wall will be constructed at the base of the hill opposite RD1 and a short section of new footpath is still to be laid.
The roundabout has been completed this summer to leave the project’s final 2011/12 summer season free for the construction of 2.5km of bridge approach roads either side of the new bridge. Landscaping of the roundabout will be carried out in autumn 2011.
Construction of the $47m two-lane Kopu Bridge was brought forward in 2009 as part of the Government’s $500m Jobs and Growth Plan. It replaces the existing one-lane bridge build in 1928. Once completed, the new bridge will reduce traveling times and reduce costs for all bridge users.
Construction of the bridge is progressing well. Mr Carter said work on the 2.5km of new approach roads would begin once subsoils beneath the rock embankments on the bridge approaches have settled enough to carry the weight of the new road. The project is expected to be complete by mid-2012.
Mr Carter said the rock embankments placed east and west of the new bridge provided the weight to make the subsoils settle. They had already settled an average of one metre, and the embankments had recently been topped up with new rock. A final top-up is planned in 9-12 months to achieve the final settlement targets.
A new temporary work platform is being built from the eastern bank of the Waihou River to provide access to build the five remaining new Kopu Bridge piers. The western platform is being progressively dismantled, and the components are being ferried across the river by barge to be used to build the eastern platform. A gap will be kept between the new eastern platform and the existing western platform to enable the boat navigation span to remain open.