Opening of the long-awaited twin bridges in Matakohe will make travelling faster and make it easier for businesses to transport goods to and from Northland's west coast, a local government leader says.
Kaipara deputy mayor Peter Wethey said yesterday's opening of the Matakohe Bridge project was "fantastic news" and he was happy the government came to the party.
Associate Transport Minister Shne Jones opened the bridges, built by NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) contractors Fulton Hogan, and 2.5km road alignment along state highway 12.
The $39m project is expected to remove tight curves and short straights to improve safety on that section of the Twin Coast Discovery Route.
The two-lane bridge— Te Piringatahi— replaced the nearby Anderson Bridge.
"State highway 12 is an important arterial route across the whole width and links the west coast through markets in Auckland and elsewhere and the route is used by a large volume of heavy trucks," Wethey said.
"The previous bridge has outgrown its usefulness and we've had serious accidents and people have suffered injuries in the past so we're happy to finally close that chapter with the new bridges.
"We'll see significant improvements to safety and also economic benefits as there are no bends and corners so it will shorten the time it takes for freight to move from the west coast to Auckland and other places."
Speed restrictions, put in place by NZTA while the bridges were taking shape, have been lifted along the entire length of the new 2.5km alignment.
Te Piringatahi Bridge - which means "bringing together as one" - is 191 metres long and stands 15 metres above the Matakohe River.
It has six spans, each made up of five concrete supertee beams and is Northland's longest supertee bridge. It replaces the old one-lane Hardies Bridge.
The second bridge, Te Ao Marama Hou, means "moving from the past into the future" spans Parerau Stream and replaces Anderson Bridge. It is 54.8m in length.
Landscaping on the roadsides and other minor works will continue into winter.
Mulching and planting works NZTA had already carried out included 14 kauri trees standing 2-3 metres at the Gateway to Matakohe intersection which leads to the iconic Matakohe Kauri Museum.
The kauri plantings are in recognition of the history and the legacy of the region's ancient kauri forests, and the industries associated with the trees.