It was spades at the ready at the new Beaumont Bridge site over the Clutha River/Mata-Au yesterday afternoon, half-way between Milton and Alexandra. A sod turning event was held to mark construction about to begin on this highly anticipated SH8 project, the biggest new infrastructure project in Clutha District in many years.
In October, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency awarded a $25 million construction contract for a new two-lane bridge to HEB Construction.
Taieri MP Ingrid Leary and Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan gave speeches at the event, while local Ngāi Tahu representatives blessed the site and participated in the sod turning. HEB representatives and around 60 people were present from the local community.
Mayor Cadogan applauded the commitment to the Clutha District from Waka Kotahi, with funding for the new bridge meeting modern seismic requirements and increasing the reliability of links to Central Otago, a key production and tourism area.
“Our council was pleased to have been a conduit for community feedback through the consents’ process on the location of the new bridge, and preserving the alignment of State Highway 8, which will continue to run in front of the Beaumont Hotel. Having such a key piece of infrastructure in place which is fit-for-purpose in the 21st century is a welcome development,” Mr Cadogan said.
James Caygill, Director Regional Relationships for Waka Kotahi said that since the contract was awarded, the HEB Construction team has been setting up on the new bridge site. “They are now ready to start building the new bridge in the New Year, scheduled to open in the second half of 2023,” he said.
“The 137-year-old existing single lane bridge is no longer suited to today’s higher traffic volumes, or the larger and heavier trucks reliant upon this key freight route through to Central Otago.”
The new bridge will meet the current and future needs of the businesses and communities who depend on this highway, and safely connect people, products and places, said Mr Caygill.
Taieri MP Ingrid Leary drew attention to the artwork which would feature on the bridge’s retaining wall, acknowledging the relationship of local iwi with this area of the river over many years. People would also be able to enjoy the newly landscaped safe stopping area on the bridge’s eastern side near the old bridge, she said.