More bridges ready to move freight


The Transport Agency has made significant progress in upgrading a number of bridges in the North Island to improve the efficient movement of freight.


This investment is part of a nationwide $45 million programme to allow high productivity motor vehicles (HPMVs) to operate on 4500 kilometres of some of New Zealand’s busiest truck routes.

This financial year twenty-eight bridges will be strengthened in the North Island to allow for HPMVs operating up to 62 tonnes.  “Completion of these upgrades will be a major achievement for the Transport Agency and the local councils who have partnered with us to make it happen”, says Harry Wilson, the Transport Agency’s freight portfolio director.

The Transport Agency has worked with local councils, freight producers and road transport industry representatives in each region to identify and plan the introduction of HPMVs on key end-to-end routes.   We have analysed the regional industry demand, the commodities being transported, the composition of the vehicle fleet and the most common routes between pickup and delivery. We have identified those routes that cater for high volumes of trucks now and, with some investment, can allow for HPMVs to move the same freight with fewer trucks. These high volume freight routes include local road access to and from places that produce or receive high volumes of freight and make a significant contribution to the local and regional economy. Moving this freight on HPMVs will produce economic and safety benefits that will provide greater opportunities for local and regional economic growth.

“Our work to date has highlighted the economic, environmental and safety benefits of using HPMVs to improve productivity and reduce the number of truck movements needed to cope with current and increasing freight volumes. Delivering freight efficiencies reduces the cost of trade, which can result in cheaper goods, increasing our competitive advantage with exported and imported goods,” Harry says.

The first bridge strengthened was the Wellington Southern Rail Overbridge opening up State Highway 1 into the Manawatu, and more recently the route from the Wilsonville quarry to the Portland Cement Works, north of Whangarei.  Bridges on State highways 1 and 29 are currently being strengthened to open up HPMV access to two of New Zealand’s largest import/export ports (Auckland and Tauranga) via the Auckland – Waikato – Bay of Plenty growth triangle.  Many of the high volume North Island routes will be available for freight operators from June this year.  The remaining North Island and the South Island routes will be completed by mid-2015, opening up a total of 4500 kilometres of the strategic freight network. These upgrades will also allow greater 50MAX access removing the few remaining bridges that are not currently open to these more efficient trucks.

To date, estimated bridge strengthening costs for the North Island are $19M.  The good news is that many of the bridges initially considered for strengthening no longer need it.  Using international best practice, the Transport Agency’s bridge engineers have assessed 77 of the 112 North Island bridges initially thought to require strengthening, only to find they do not need it, thereby opening up a freight corridor to increased payloads without further investment.

“Opening these bridges without the need for an upgrade means we can increase the returns we get on this critical public infrastructure. This means that we can get more out of our road network to help New Zealand thrive,” Harry says.

Our latest maps are available for viewing on the Transport Agency website(external link).

The 2012-15 National Land Transport Programme(external link) (NLTP) signalled a $45million investment to create a connected national HPMV network on key freight routes around the country.