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Construction starts for new Kopu Bridge

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Construction is now underway to replace the current one-lane Kopu Bridge on State Highway 25 near Thames with a new two-lane bridge that will significantly reduce peak holiday travel delays and improve safety on this section of State Highway 25.

Construction is now underway to replace the current one-lane Kopu Bridge on State Highway 25 near Thames with a new two-lane bridge that will significantly reduce peak holiday travel delays and improve safety on this section of State Highway 25.

NZTA State Highways Manager Kaye Clark said the construction of the new bridge had not been scheduled to start until 2011 but the project was able to be advanced as part of the Government’s $500 million Jobs and Growth Plan.

“We’re delighted that this extra funding has allowed us to make an early start on this important project. It’s great news for the local community and for everyone who relies on the bridge to get to and from the Coromandel. The new bridge will help boost the region’s economy by making it much easier for freight and holiday makers to access the Coromandel Peninsula.”

Mrs Clark said NZTA has awarded the construction contract to Pukekohe-based HEB Construction Ltd.

Once completed in 2012 the new bridge will improve traffic capacity along SH25 to and from the Coromandel Peninsula and cut up to an hour off holiday travel times between Auckland and Thames.

Along with a new 580 metre-long bridge, the project will also provide a new four-leg roundabout at the SH25/SH26 intersection and about 2.5 kilometres of associated approach roads, including a new link road to SH26 east of the bridge.

Mrs Clark said while there would not be obvious physical activity at the site for the next few months, plenty would be happening, including proof-drilling for the new bridge piles. Construction will start onsite in September and is programmed to be completed by Easter 2012.

Regular email updates about this project will be available as work progresses. To register for updates email waikatoprojects@nzta.govt.nz.

For more information please contact:

Julie Hannam
Regional Communications Advisor
T   64 07 958 7238
M  64 027 294 2649  
julie.hannam@nzta.govt.nz

SH25 Kopu Bridge replacement - media fact sheet

History of the current bridge:

  • Negotiations to start building the current bridge began in 1911 and construction started in 1926.
  • The current Kopu Bridge was built using the best available method of construction at the time – short spans, shallow timber piles with concrete piers and steel plate girders.
  • The central swing span allows vessels to pass under the bridge and navigate the Waihou River.
  • Until the current bridge was built, ferries and barges were used to cross the channel, connecting the Hauraki Plains to the Coromandel Peninsula.
  • Kopu Bridge was officially opened in 1928 by the then Prime Minister, the Hon J G (Gordon) Coates
  • The current Kopu Bridge is now listed as a Category 1 building by the NZ Historic Places Trust.
  • The future use of the existing bridge will be determined in consultation with the local community

Why it needs to be replaced:

  • The current one-lane Kopu Bridge is controlled by traffic lights and can no longer cope with increasing traffic, particularly at peak holiday times.
  • The annual average daily traffic (AADT) crossing the Kopu Bridge is 9,000 vehicles per day.  During peak holiday periods this rises to 1,100 vehicles per hour, creating significant traffic delays.
  • The bridge is considered strategically important in the National State Highway Network, and is a key link between Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula.
  • The bridge is an essential link for emergency services.
  • It is predicted that traffic volumes on the bridge will increase by two per cent per annum over the next 15 years.

Facts about the new bridge:

  • Construction of the new Kopu Bridge was not scheduled to start until 2011 but was bought forward as part of the Government’s $500 million Jobs and Growth Plan.
  • It will be 587 metres long, made up of 16 spans.
  • If the piles were laid down, end-on-end, they would form a line almost 5km long
  • Along with the new bridge the project includes around 2.5 kilometres of new approach roads, including a new link road to SH26 east of the bridge and a new four-leg roundabout at the junction of SH25 and SH26.
  • 100,000 cubic metres of fill material will be required to build the bridge approaches.
  • The new bridge incorporates designs of waka and taniwha as well as 10 pou.
  • The main navigational channel at the central span of the new bridge will be 42.8m wide and 6.5m above mean sea level. This is high enough to enable large river boats to pass under the bridge.
  • The landscaping plan has been developed in consultation with the local community and makes strong use of native species.
  • The tender to build the new bridge has been won by Pukekohe-based HEB Construction Ltd
  • The project is expected to cost $47 million.
  • Construction is programmed to be completed by Easter 2012.
  • There may not be a great deal of obvious physical activity on the site for the next few months, but plenty will be happening including the proof drilling for the new bridge piles.

The benefits:

  • There will be a significant reduction in delays getting over the bridge – particularly during peak holiday times.
  • It is estimated that that the new bridge will reduce the travelling time to the Coromandel Peninsula at peak holiday periods by up to one hour.
  • Construction of this long-awaited project will boost the region’s economy and tourism by making it a lot easier for freight and holiday makers to access the Coromandel Peninsula.
  • When construction is in full swing, up to 50 people will be working full-time on the site. Another 100 people will be involved downstream, supplying material and providing supporting services.
  • The new bridge will provide significant economic benefits to the Coromandel-Hauraki area and the wider North Island.
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