The first of a number of bridges in the upper North Island identified by the NZ Transport Agency for improvement as part of a nationwide $45 million investment programme to accommodate heavier loads have been upgraded on State Highway 1 near Whangarei.
The Otaika Stream Bridge No. 85 and the Kauri railway overbridge have been improved so that heavier loads can be carried by High Productivity Motor Vehicles (HPMVs) from the Wilsonville quarry, north of Whangarei, to the Portland Cement works, south of the city.
The Transport Agency’s Freight Director, Harry Wilson, says the improvements are part of a national programme to deliver a strategic nationwide network of HPMV routes on some of the country’s busiest freight corridors.
“Because HPMVs carry more freight per trip, they reduce the number of trips needed to improve productivity and cope with increasing freight volumes.
“In the case of the Otaika Stream Bridge and the Kauri railway overbridge, 56 trucks currently cross the bridges to and from the quarry each day, six days a week. Allowing HPMVs over these bridges is expected to save 14 trips per day.
“This is great news as it maximises load capacity on a key Northland route, which will lead to direct efficiency gains for industry as well as economic benefits for the local community,” Mr Wilson says
The reduction in travel offers significant commercial advantages – including lower vehicle operating costs, driver hours and fuel – as well as safety benefits from the reduced crash risk that fewer truck trips provide.
“With the potential for productivity gains, industry will invest in newer, safer truck combinations to operate on New Zealand’s state highways and roads. These newer trucks tend to be quieter and cleaner than the vehicles they replace, while the fuel savings mean reduced carbon emissions for each tonne of freight moved,” Mr Wilson says.
The Transport Agency is improving freight efficiency by increasing network access for HPMVs, which are able to carry greater loads than conventional trucks. This will allow more freight to be moved in fewer trips, and unlock the benefits from industry investment in these newer, more efficient trucks.
The 2012-15 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP)(external link) signalled a $45million investment to create a connected national HPMV network on key freight routes around the country.