The piles required to support the new Hikuwai Bailey bridge on State Highway 35 north of Gisborne will be going deeper to ensure a solid footing for construction.
The Bailey bridge will replace the Hikuwai no. 1 bridge, which was damaged in Cyclone Gabrielle.
Piling began last week, however, contractors will need to drive them down further than first anticipated to reach firm ground.
Waka Kotahi Regional Manager of Maintenance and Operations Jaclyn Hankin says contractors and bridge engineers are working as hard as they can to minimise the impact on the construction schedule.
“Because our crews will have to drive the piles up to 12 metres deeper than originally planned, we’re anticipating the bridge will take a few more days than first thought to complete and open. This means an estimated completion date of 8 June, weather dependent.”
“While we know the importance of getting this done in as short a time frame as possible, it is crucial the bridge and its foundations are constructed carefully and correctly to ensure the bridge is fit for purpose, resilient and will withstand expected traffic loads.
“We’ve seen how quickly a Bailey bridge can be pieced together once the foundations are in correctly – an example being Waikare Gorge Bailey bridge on State Highway 2 between Wairoa and Napier in recent days and weeks.”
The Waikare Gorge Bailey bridge will be formally blessed tomorrow before opening to road users on Sunday.
“From site preparation, through to the installation of these piers and the bridge deck itself, we’re working to make the Hikuwai bridge as safe and resilient as possible, and to ensure it is fit for purpose until a long-term solution is finalised. Getting this right takes time and we appreciate people’s patience.”
Waka Kotahi recognises this is a really important piece of work for the region and for the people who live and work alongside SH35.
“Restoring safe, reliable access into and around Gisborne and the rest of Tairāwhiti has been, and continues to be, a top priority for us. We’re as eager as the communities alongside SH35 to see those important connections with whanau, friends, employment, services and business restored,” says Ms Hankin.