The NZ Transport Agency is building a bailey bridge to ease disruption for locals after the Makapua Bridge on State Highway 38 was damaged by a falling tree.
Regional Highway Manager Chuck Dowdell says a large poplar tree fell onto the bridge during high winds on Wednesday night, causing significant damage to the bridge.
The bridge is located approximately 30 kms north of Wairoa, and immediately south of Tuai. With the bridge closed, residents and other road users are facing an additional one hour travel time - an inconvenience the Transport Agency are keen to put an end to.
"Although a detour is in place, the extra travel time is a real headache for drivers so we will be building a bailey bridge to enable them to cross the river without the lengthy dog leg."
"This is one of those frustrating things that Mother Nature sometimes throws at us, and we'll be working as quickly as we can to fix the problem for the people who rely on this route."
"We thank the public for their patience while we work to get the bailey bridge in place and the main bridge fixed up," said Chuck.
Mr Dowdell says it will take approximately one week to source, assemble and install the temporary bailey bridge in a location near the damaged bridge. This will require access to neighbouring property and construction of an access track and ramps. Once this is complete, traffic should be able to return to the usual route while the Transport Agency carries out repairs to the Makapua Bridge.
Until the Bailey Bridge is instructed, a signposted detour will remain in place using Ruapapa and Waihi Roads to travel in both directions. This detour adds approximately one hour travel time and is mostly unsealed road to a similar standard to SH 38. This detour does includes one bridge limited to carrying a maximum of 36 tonnes.
Mr Dowdell says the detour does not preclude residents from using the Tiniroto, Ruakituri, Erepeti, Ohuka Road loop, although this route is an additional 70 km/h travel distance and not suitable for heavy goods vehicles. Arrangements are being made for safe crossing of the bridge on foot for local school children needing to meet with school buses.
The Transport Agency is installing signs north of Wairoa (north of Frasertown) and at the Rotorua end of SH38 at Rainbow Mountain (near its intersection with State Highway 5), and at Murupara to advise any cross country traffic from Whakatane/Galatea area.