The NZ Transport Agency says welding has begun on the Mohaka Bridge as contractors engage in the final push to have the strengthening and repairs of the bridge finished over in coming months.
Regional highways manager Chuck Dowdell says crews have completed work readying the bridge for the welding operation, and this preparatory work was a big job in itself.
“This is a large structure – it’s about 50 metres tall - so it’s been quite a mission getting the scaffolding in place and sandblasting the joints that need welding.
“It’s a job you need an ironclad constitution for, because it’s pretty high above the river and they’re working underneath a bridge that is carrying traffic at all times. We’d like to give a big pat on the back to the contractors because they’re working really hard in challenging conditions.”
Mr Dowdell says the Agency was hopeful work would be completed in the next three months, and says the public have been extremely understanding of the short delays due to automated stop-go signals. One way traffic on the bridge minimises strong vibrations that would be generated by two-way traffic and allows the crews to quickly and safely get on with their work.
“While motorists can’t see the work because it’s underneath the bridge, there seems to be good awareness of the importance of the work and people have been very understanding. The delays may only be five minutes, but we know that feels like a long time when you’re on a big journey, and we want to thank everyone for being so patient.
“We’re aware of many truckies who routinelytravel this route, and it’s been heartening how supportive they’ve been while we get this vbital lifeline in top nick.”
“It’s happening underneath the bridge, so while motorists won’t see it, crews are working hard to get the job finished by the end of April.”
Mr Dowdell says the traffic lights are on a timer, rather than a sensor, as this equipment is more reliable in this setting. The timer is set for around 3-5 minutes between red and green. During peak times, traffic lights are replaced with manual stop-go operations to help keep traffic moving as smoothly as possible.
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