Marking the start of construction on the new bridge over the Ōpaoa River in Blenheim, the NZ Transport Agency is holding a special sod-turning and blessing event this afternoon. Neighbouring residents, iwi, business and local community representatives will be attending.
Jim Harland, Director Regional Relationships for the Transport Agency, says planning for the project started in 2015 and has included a significant level of community input.
“The new two-lane bridge is a long-awaited project for the Marlborough region, which will improve safety, infrastructure resilience and everyone’s journey. We are now much closer to making State Highway 1 more resilient to natural disasters as well as a secure freight route connecting the North and South Islands. The new bridge will also make it easier for people in Marlborough to access central Blenheim.”
He says investigations identified that the current bridge was too narrow for today’s transport environment. The existing bridge, a Heritage NZ Category 1 Heritage Place, will be retained for pedestrians and cyclists.
Work has been planned to limit disruption as much as possible to neighbouring houses and businesses, maintain traffic flows and protect the environment, with restricted access to the river at times to prevent disturbing fish during the spawning season.
At times, stop/go manual traffic management may be required, particularly from mid-2019 when the tie-ins for the highway’s southern approach are constructed.
When construction is complete, a landscape plan will be carried out to beautify the area and create an attractive gateway to Blenheim that clearly marks the northern entrance to the town.
The project is expected to be fully completed by mid-2020.
Project page for this new bridge: www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/opawa-bridge-replacement/ (external link)