The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) this week called for tenders to construct the new $6.13 million bridge across Reid's canal on State Highway 2 near Edgecumbe.
The State Highway 2 link over Reid’s canal is an important regional freight route and a vital local community connector road. The existing 76 year old bridge was damaged during the 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake and again in the June 2004 flood. It has undergone various short-term upgrades to extend its useful life since then, but now needs to be replaced.
Rod James, the NZTA’s State Highway Manager, says he expects the tender will be awarded to the successful contractor in late March.
“Because the new bridge will be built in the same location as the existing one, state highway traffic will be diverted along Western Drain Road, McCracken Road and Hydro Road during the eight month construction period.
“The first job for the contractor will be to upgrade the detour route to cope with extra traffic. This includes easing corners, improving signage and road markings, removing the unused rail overbridge on Hydro Road and installing street lighting at each end of McCracken Road. Speed on McCracken Road will be reduced to 80km/hour for the duration of the detour.
“We expect traffic will be diverted onto the detour route by mid-July, after the high-pressure gas line that runs alongside the old bridge has been relocated. Work to remove the old bridge will then begin,” said Mr James.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chairman John Cronin says the Regional Council is pleased to see the new bridge becoming a reality.
“The new, higher bridge is a key project to accomplish improved flood protection for Edgecumbe and Rangitaiki Plains. The Council looks forward to having this link completed.”
Whakatane District Council Mayor Tony Bonne says his council is working with the NZTA to ensure residents who live on the detour route are not inconvenienced any more than absolutely necessary.
“The reality is that extra traffic on quiet rural roads is not ideal. However, I’m confident the NZTA is doing everything practical to raise the standard of the road and minimise disruption for the duration of this essential work.”
Because the new bridge will be two metres higher than the existing bridge, ramps up to 300 metres long on each side are required. It will also be 3.8 metres wider, providing a safer road for all those who use it. It will be built to withstand a one-in-1000 year earthquake.