The $19m Taipā bridge, representing a significant event in New Zealand history, will officially be opened to two lanes of traffic ahead of a busy Labour weekend.
There was still some finishing work to be done on the 107m long bridge including a final seal and road markings but the bridge will open for two lanes of traffic tomorrow.Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency senior manager project delivery Andrew Thackwray said it was appropriate to open the bridge for the holiday weekend as the project was all about improving the safe movement of summer holiday traffic through the coastal town.
"Summer is coming, and we want to show what a difference the two-lane bridge will make to the town and its visitor traffic," Thackwray said.
"We thank the people of Taipā for their patience and understanding during the bridge construction. There's been quite a bit of disruption and restrictions in the main street as well."
The new bridge has three piers in the waterway compared to the six piers that supported the one-lane bridge.
Along with two lanes, the new bridge has a 2.5m wide shared path on the downstream (north) side of the bridge for pedestrians and cyclists which is separated from the road.
The bridge design acknowledges Taipā as an important landing place for Kupe in Aotearoa.
By Māori tradition Kupe was the first man to arrive in New Zealand.
It also wishes all who travel over the bridge a safe journey.
The waka tauihu — prow — end panels are facing in the direction of Cable Bay to welcome visitors to Taipā and further north, and there are taurapa — stern — end panels on the Taipā township side of the bridge.
The waka hourua — journey — design was the result of extensive collaboration between the Transport Agency and hapu, along with community feedback. This was shared with the design team at three public information days.
The waka hourua, a traditional double hulled sailing canoe, design and the pou whenua were the result of extensive collaboration between the Transport Agency and the local hapu representatives of Ngati Kahu.
The close relationship with Ngati Kahu saw the relocation of the old monument from the shop carpark to a more prominent and deserving location. The monument commemorates local fallen soldiers that have passed in the line of duty.
"It was really important that we worked closely with local hapu to acknowledge Taipā's rich history, the significance of its river and estuary and the role of the bridge in the town's future," Thackwray said.
"The bridge is a modern forward-looking structure. The viewing platform acknowledges the bridge's place in the community as a summer time resting and diving spot for kids of all ages."
The old one-lane bridge was often a congestion point, but the new two-lane bridge is part of 1km of roading and town centre improvements in Taipā.
It opened to one lane of traffic on February 15 this year, with the other half of the bridge used for machinery and equipment in the deconstruction of the old bridge.