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Local community invited to celebrate start of new Waitaki Bridges

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The Lower Waitaki Valley communities of Kurow and Hakataramea are being invited to celebrate the construction of two new bridges on State Highway 82 over the Waitaki River by attending next month’s sod turning.

The traditional ceremony to herald the start of a major construction project, the sod turning, will be on Thursday 7 March by Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean. Waimate Mayor John Coles and Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton will take part in the ceremony, along with NZ Transport Agency Southern Regional Director Jim Harland and New Zealand's General Manager of McConnell Dowell Constructors Roger McRae.

Mr Harland says the Waitaki Bridges are a significant lifeline route for the local community and it is fitting that the community gets to share in the celebration to begin the construction of the two new bridges which will provide the community with a more secure, safer route.

“The ageing 132-year-old bridges opened in 1881 and have reached the end of their life.  They are vulnerable to closure during peak river flows with the spilling of the hydro dams and unable to carry over-sized agricultural machinery which is critical for the prosperity of this largely rural community.

“The new $18.5 million bridges will carry two-way traffic and each will have a barrier-separated pathway for cyclists and pedestrians, helping to support the growth in tourism in the area.”

Contractors McConnell Dowell will move on site early next month to begin construction of the two new bridges which are expected to open in late 2014.

The sod turning ceremony on 7 March will be 11.30am on the island recreational reserve on SH82 between the two bridges. The local community is invited to attend the event and share in the historic occasion.

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