The State Highway 21 Narrows Waikato River crossing, just south of Hamilton on Airport Road, was restored to two lanes this morning with the reopening of one lane on the Narrows Bridge.
The Narrows Bridge is carrying westbound traffic heading to Hamilton airport and the temporary bailey bridge, immediately upstream of the Narrows Bridge, is now carrying eastbound traffic.
Both bridges have a 30km/h speed restriction in place and are open to all legal loads, including Class 1 heavy vehicles. Cyclists are also able to use both bridges.
Narrows Bridge was closed on 16 September after the NZTA was unable to continue monitoring erosion damage in the vicinity of the bridge due to high and rising river levels. A temporary one-lane bailey bridge was opened to traffic on 20 October and will remain in place for at least another three months until the Waikato River bank erosion protection and stabilisation work has been completed, and the Narrows Bridge can be restored to full two-lane operation.
NZTA State Highway Manager Kaye Clark says consistently low Waikato River levels over the past week has enabled the strengthening of the river banks around the Narrows Bridge to be advanced to the point where it is now safe to allow one lane of traffic to use the bridge.
The work to reinforce the Waikato River banks to protect the existing Narrows Bridge from further erosion is currently ongoing. Some further brief closures of the Narrows Bridge will be required over the next few months to enable the repair work to be carried out. During these closures traffic will be reduced back to one lane over the bailey bridge, and controlled by traffic signals.
The first of these brief closures of Narrows Bridge is scheduled to occur next Monday, 29 November. Monday’s temporary closure of Narrows Bridge is expected to be in effect for several hours and will allow a large fallen tree to be removed from the Waikato River, just upstream of the bridge. All traffic will be diverted onto the bailey bridge during the temporary closure of the Narrows Bridge.
Heavy vehicles requiring overweight and over-dimensional permits will not be able to travel over either bridge and will need to use alternative routes until the bank stabilisation works have been fully completed.