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An end to repairs under the Rakaia River bridge


New Zealand’s longest road bridge has been getting out-of-sight repairs in recent weeks.

Drivers using the more than 1.7 kilometre Rakaia River bridge will have noticed the road cones encouraging them to slow down with a narrowed 200 metre stretch and 30 kph signs. But the repair crew has been hard to spot as you travel over this mid Canterbury icon.

Geovert’s James Cooper working on the concrete repair of a bridge pier.

Geovert’s James Cooper working on the concrete repair of a bridge pier.

The NZ Transport Agency’s Opus engineering consultants had Geovert’s repair team working under the bridge, part of State Highway 1, using ropes to safely get along the length of this very long structure. Scaffolding in a river environment would create its own issues and require resource consent and many delays as the structure was moved along the length of the bridge.

Instead, the nimble seven-strong Geovert team, have been using ropes and pulleys to traverse the underside of the bridge, built in 1939.(external link) The concrete repair products being used to strengthen the bridge’s piers are supplied by specialist structural strengthening systems company Sika.

Traffic management has been working successfully, with drivers getting the message to slow across the narrowed stretches. This limits the vibration both for the workers underneath and the concrete repair product which needs to cure with as little movement as possible.

Work has now come to an end for these repairs, with a much reduced timeframe from the original estimate of the end of October, said Pete Connors, NZ Transport Agency Regional Performance Manager. Traffic management was uplifted on Thursday this week.

“Thanks to all drivers who did slow over the bridge and to the Geovert team for their efficiency and dedication to getting this job done,” said Pete Connors.