Less than two years after it was started, the NZ Transport Agency’s new $25 million road bridge across the Taramakau River, between Kumara Junction and Greymouth, will be officially opened to traffic and people on Sunday afternoon, 22 July, 2018.
Originally estimated to take two years to build, contractor Fulton Hogan has delivered the project in close to 18 months.
“People will be able to walk and cycle the new bridge between 2.30 pm and 4.30 pm on Sunday, after the blessing by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae. After 4.30 pm, it will be opened to traffic and the 132-year-old road-rail bridge will be officially closed to road traffic,” says Transport Agency Director Regional Relationships Jim Harland.
“We understand that many West Coasters will be keen to travel across the old, single lane bridge for the last time as close as they can to its closure to road traffic, but given the likely congestion, we advise people to do it sooner and not wait until the last minute Sunday.”
Mr Harland advised people that parking spaces on both sides of the bridge at Sunday’s opening would be limited and for people to expect to walk a distance.
“We will be installing temporary speed restrictions from Kumara Junction to the bridge and back towards Greymouth to allow parking and keep any pedestrians and cyclists on the highway safe. We ask that people make a special effort to ensure this is a safe and enjoyable occasion for families and a great celebration for the wider West Coast.”
He asked all drivers to take care around a larger than usual number of cyclists and pedestrians on Sunday afternoon between Kumara Junction and Gladstone near Greymouth.
The new bridge has a 2.5 metre wide pedestrian and cycling path on one side, forming part of the West Coast Wilderness Trail(external link), which links Greymouth, Kumara and Ross.
“The new bridge will provide a safer and more efficient transport link for West Coast locals and for tourists,” says Mr Harland.
Rail traffic will continue to use the existing bridge, with the realigned road passing over the existing rail line south of the river.
Around 3,500 vehicles use the Taramakau Bridge each day, on State Highway 6.
“The new bridge means local business operators, freight vehicles and residents will no longer have to wait at each end on their daily commutes.”
More information on the project is available on the Transport Agency’s Taramakau Bridge Project page: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/sh6-taramakau-bridge-project/