The Transport Agency has $1.6m worth of bridge strengthening work underway, or about to get underway, on highways in Central Otago and the Queenstown-Lakes District.
The work is on the State highway 8 (SH8) Alexandra bridge, plus 3 bridges on State highway 6 (SH6) in the Kawarau Gorge between Cromwell and Queenstown. When completed, the bridges will be capable of carrying High Productivity Motor Vehicles (HPMVs), which are trucks permitted to carry loads of up to 58 tonnes.
Transport Agency Project Team Manager Simon Underwood, says HPMV permitted trucks with loads capped anywhere between 45 tonnes and 58 tonnes are expected to use these bridges once this work is done.
“Fulton Hogan is carrying out the strengthening of the Alexandra Bridge at a cost of $770,000. All the work is taking place below the bridge from scaffolding, meaning minimal disruptions for bridge users, apart from some periodic traffic management.”
Mr Underwood says work on three bridges on SH6 in Kawarau Gorge is costing $840,000. At the Roaring Meg Bridge, the work includes abutment protection work to ensure the bridge remains serviceable for all traffic. At the Gentle Annie Bridges steel rods are being placed on the underside of the bridge to make the bridges strong enough to handle HPMV trucks.
At the Kawarau River (Victoria Bridge), extra steel plates are being added so it to can carry these high productivity trucks. All work is planned to be completed by 30 June 2015. Mr Underwood said that as freight volumes grow, the availability of the high productivity freight routes to allow for the use of HPMVs will help reduce freight journeys by up to 20%. This means freight operators can now shift more goods with fewer trips, helping to lift productivity and improve road safety.
To be on the road HPMVs must meet higher safety standards, and there are also other significant safety benefits - from the reduced crash risk that fewer truck trips provide to bringing newer, safer truck combinations onto our roads.
The approach to reducing the number of truck trips to move New Zealand’s freight is part of the Transport Agency’s wider work with our partners on implementing Safer Journeys. This includes work on safer speeds, better roads and roadsides, and smarter enforcement of road rules for trucks.
Development of the high productivity freight network is the result of $45 million worth of investment through the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) 2012/15. This investment included an assessment and bridge strengthening programme that has enabled these State highways, and a number of ‘first and last mile’ local roads, to carry these safer, and more productive freight vehicles Mr Underwood said.
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