Lewis Pass and Waiau/ Mt Lyford road drivers – bridge beams bound for Kaikoura sharing the highway from next week


From early next week, Tuesday, 22 August, drivers will need to watch for 28 metre (bumper to bumper) truck loads moving bridge beams to Kaikoura, via the Lewis Pass and the inland road via Waiau/ Mt Lyford. The beams are heading to Irongate, north of Kaikoura for a new bridge build as well as smaller bridge sites north of Kaikoura.

At Irongate, just north of Blue Duck and Mangamaunu, an 144-metre* long bridge is being built on State Highway 1.

“From Rotorua, the beams will come across to Picton and travel down through the alternate Picton to Christchurch highway via the Lewis Pass before heading north up the inland road to Kaikoura,” says North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery Journey Manager, Tresca Forrester.

“Some minor delays can be expected due to the length of the load and the slow and winding nature of parts of the Lewis Pass route and the Kaikoura inland road. We thank drivers for taking it cautiously around these long loads.”

While the majority of the beams will be used at Irongate on the currently closed section of SH1, they will also be used for five other bridge sites in the rebuild area north of Kaikoura.

“These truckloads are scheduled to follow this inland route until September. At that point we expect the majority will then travel from Blenheim down the construction-access-only coastal highway (SH1) via the newly opened temporary construction track at Ohau Point. This will help limit the impact on the Lewis Pass Alternate Route and Kaikoura’s inland road.”

There are approximately 120 bridge beams to be transported over coming weeks for bridge building along State Highway 1, north of Kaikoura.

Irongate new bridge site, SH1, north of Kaikoura

Irongate new bridge site, SH1, north of Kaikoura

Aerial view taken recently below of Irongate site.

The rock bluff above the rail tunnel has been dug out using an excavator and a rock saw to create a slope where the southern bridge abutment (where the bridge meets the road) will be built.

The crew is currently halfway through excavating the bluff to road level with construction ready to start on the bridge columns and the pier heads. A team of 50 is working on the 144-metre bridge to have it open for the planned reopening of State Highway 1 at the end of this year.

 *Earlier versions of this story estimated the Irongate bridge at 80-metres long, this has since been corrected.