State Highway One north of Taupo has a new bridge across the Waikato River, which traffic began using yesterday.
Built for $24 million near the Atiamuri hydro-electric station, it replaces a narrower bridge which has been in service since 1957 but will be demolished between now and June.
That follows several years of restrictions on overweight vehicles and a reduced speed limit of 50km/h to nurse the old bridge - which is 75m downstream from the newcomer - into retirement.
The crossing has the striking Hatu Patu's Rock as its backdrop and is just south of an intersection of SH1 with SH30, which the Transport Agency has upgraded with better sight lines for safer driving as part of the bridge replacement project.
A 1.5km northbound passing lane has been added to SH1 as part of the project, removing several low-speed curves, and a shared pedestrian and cycleway on the new bridge can be used to reach off-road trails on both sides of the river.
Taupo Mayor Rick Cooper and his South Waikato counterpart, Neil Sinclair, say the new bridge is important for the local and national economies given the large volumes of traffic passing through their territories.