Spectacular bridge closer to completion

By Sophie Ryan

The Lower Hatea River drawbridge in Whangarei is on track for completion in July next year.

The final pier has been finished, and work on the $29million project will now focus on the bridge beams, decks, asphalt and road markings, lighting and the bascule - the lifting element of the bridge.

A contract for 140 tonnes of steel ballast has recently been given to Donovan's, a Whangarei engineering company.

The bascule is being made in China and will arrive in Whangarei in pieces in February and early March. Hydraulic rams have been made in Holland and will arrive in late February.

Whangarei District Council infrastructure and services manager Simon Weston said, "Whangarei's Lower Hatea River crossing is the pinnacle of civil engineering in Whangarei to date. The bascule bridge is not only well on the way to becoming the most spectacular man-made feature of the district, if not the region, it is also a major piece of an integrated roading network plan, first envisaged in the 1990s," he said. The bridge will ease traffic in Whangarei by directly linking Onerahi, Parua Bay and Whangarei Heads to State Highway One.

Architect Martin Knight designed the bascule to resemble the prow of a waka or a bone fish hook. The bascule will rise 26m above sea at high tide to allow ships to pass through the bridge.

Cars will have to wait for just over a minute for the bascule to rise, a ship to pass, and the bascule to come down again before they can continue on their way.

It is understood the bridge will be manually operated from an on-site control room to begin with, but an automated system to raise and lower the bascule will be fitted in time.

- Northern Advocate

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