The new $6m Reids Canal Bridge on State Highway 2 near Edgecumbe was officially opened today by the NZ Transport Agency and Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne.
Bay of Plenty state highways manager, Brett Gliddon says the new bridge will provide greater route security for those living in the Edgecumbe, Whakatane and wider Eastern Bay of Plenty area.
"Route security on local highways is vital for the Eastern Bay of Plenty region, the new Reids Canal Bridge will help to provide an important link for these communities along State Highway 2."
The new Reids Canal Bridge replaces the 76 year old bridge that was damaged in the 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake and in the June 2004 Whakatane floods.
The new bridge took 9 months to complete and was constructed to meet current seismic activity codes.
Building the new bridge was technically challenging says Mr Gliddon, as the old bridge had to be demolished at the same time the contractor was building the embankments for the new bridge.
The 65-metre length bridge is three times as long as the old bridge and almost twice as wide at 11.5metres, allowing for more shoulder room for road users including cyclists.
The 2 metre high bridge is taller than the old bridge, with ramps up to 300 metres long on each side, which will provide improved protection from flooding, says Mr Gliddon.
Mr Gliddon says the project team did a fantastic job in building the new bridge under technically challenging circumstances.
"This was not an easy project and we are really pleased with the results. Our contractor HEB and consultant BBO had to come up with new solutions to improve ground conditions to get the main bridge structure secure."
Mr Gliddon said traffic will be redirected back from the detour route (which went along Western Drain Road, McCracken Road and Hydro Road) back onto State Highway 2 this afternoon (Thursday 22 March).