The end of an era is almost complete with the demolition of the old one-lane bridge at Taipa going to plan and due to be finished next month.
NZ Transport Agency said a new two-lane bridge has been constructed next to the old bridge, and while half of the bridge opened to foot and vehicle traffic in February, the other half is being used for machinery and equipment in the demolition process of the old bridge.
"Demolishing a bridge is complex work and the need to protect the marine environment has added an additional layer of complexity," NZTA's senior manager project delivery Andrew Thackwray said.
"Each of the concrete spans cut out of the bridge is 15m long and weighs up to 16 tonnes. Spans are cut into four sections, lifted out on to the new bridge and then cut into a further three sections before being transported off site."
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The old pier has been removed, but the piles are sitting just below the water line at low tide. The piles will be cut down further so they are below the level of the riverbed, he said.
"This is why we insist there be no diving from the bridge or boats passing under the bridge. We will advise when the piles have been made safe and the ban can be lifted."
During work hours, traffic movements across the bridge will be controlled by temporary traffic lights or manual stop/go traffic managers.
"We ask motorists to follow the directions of the traffic managers and take extra care. We thank people for their patience and understanding while we complete the bridge construction," Thackwray said.
The Taipa bridge's location on Northland's main tourist connection, the Twin Coast Discovery Route, means it plays a critical role in the Northland economy.
He said when it's completed, the new two-lane bridge will improve traffic flow through the town. It will also improve safety on and around the bridge and at nearby intersections for the local community, while providing safer more reliable travel options including cycling and walking.
For more on the Taipa Bridge project see: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/connecting-northland/twin-coast-discovery-route/taipa-bridge