Rakaia Gorge bridge (No 1) – deck replacement and earthquake strengthening, State Highway 77, May to August


NZ Transport Agency crews have started setting up temporary traffic management and scaffolding on the Rakaia Gorge (No 1*) Bridge, State Highway 77, in Mid Canterbury.

Photo of the Rakaia Gorge Bridge.

“This is the start of a $1.2 million deck replacement and seismic strengthening project which is expected to take up to four months to complete,” says Transport Agency Network Manager Jess McFarlane.

Downer won the bridge repair contract.

The single lane, historic bridge is 16 km north of Methven, near Windwhistle. As well as replacing the bridge deck, the handrail will be refurbished, structural elements will be strengthened and some minor safety improvements made at each side.

Delays – daytime and from mid-May night time full closures

“The general works will happen during the daytime hours, 7 am to 5.30 pm, Monday to Saturday, with speed reduced to 30 km/ hour. Some of the tasks will involve delays for drivers of up to 20 minutes,” says Miss McFarlane.

“The bridge deck will be replaced at nights from mid-May and will involve closing the road completely from 10 pm to 5 am, Sunday to Friday inclusive, for four weeks. No traffic will be allowed across at this time.

“The exact dates for the night closures will be advertised by electronic signs and media/ social media updates ahead of time to keep regular road users and the wider community informed.”

This work is weather dependent so if it is wet, it could be extended. The work programme runs over four months, May to August.


Drivers who want to avoid the short delays or travel the nights of the full closure need to travel east to State Highway 1 and use the SH1 Rakaia River Bridge. This will add up to an hour and 40 minutes to the journey. 

Map showing the detour route.

Permit holders, over dimension, 50MAX

  • Existing permit holders (for overweight vehicles) will be able to continue to use the bridge while this work is underway.
  • The bridge’s width will also remain unchanged so over-dimension vehicles will also be unaffected.
  • 50 MAX vehicles similarly, will have no change to existing conditions. No HPMV permits have been issued for the bridge crossing to date.

*(A two-lane concrete bridge, Rakaia Gorge Bridge No 2, is on the Methven side of this bridge.)

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