Okere Bridge on State Highway 33 near Mourea in the Central Bay of Plenty has been given the green light by the NZ Transport Agency for High Productivity Motor Vehicles, which the Agency says will help to make the movement of goods through the Central Bay of Plenty more efficient and support the region's economic growth.
Waikato and Bay of Plenty regional director Harry Wilson said screening of the route from the Port of Tauranga to Taupo, via Rotorua (SH2, SH33 and SH5), identified that a restriction on the SH33 Okere Bridge was preventing HPMVs from using the route.
"Detailed assessment of the bridge's capacity was undertaken and we were able to demonstrate that the bridge was suitable for HPMVs without any additional strengthening work. As a result, the Port of Tauranga to Taupo route is now able to be travelled by most HPMVs. This is very positive news for local industry as it maximises load capacity on a key route and will help improve freight efficiency of the region," he said.
Mr Wilson says the NZTA is developing a connected national HPMV network, with priority given to State highways and local roads that carry high volumes of freight traffic and provide access to areas of significant and sustainable freight production, consumption and distribution.
"Our work to date has highlighted the economic, environmental and safety benefits of using HPMVs to improve productivity and improve safety by reducing the number of truck movements needed to cope with current and increasing freight volumes. Providing a national freight network will allow for HPMVs to carry significantly more freight using fewer trips. That will make our roads safer and at the same time reduce the cost of trade, which can result in cheaper goods increasing our competitive advantage with exported and imported goods," he said.
An estimated 350,000 tonnes of forestry and agriculture freight is carried to the Port of Tauranga from the Central North Island every year. The Bay of Plenty road network carries the third-largest freight traffic in the country, and has the heaviest vehicle weight intensity in the country (214.8 thousand tonnes per kilometre compared with the New Zealand average of 106.5). The State Highway 33 route currently carries about 600 trucks per day.