The first physical signs of the Bailey bridge that will replace the cyclone damaged Hikuwai no. 1 Bridge on State Highway 35 north of Gisborne are springing up, with piling work beginning this week.
A 300 tonne bright orange crane isn’t a common sight on this stretch of state highway, however, its arrival means work on the installation of the 85 metre long Bailey bridge is progressing.
Waka Kotahi Regional Manager of Maintenance and Operations Jaclyn Hankin says with piling now underway, the Bailey bridge is expected to be open to traffic by the end of May, weather dependent.
“This is a really important piece of work for the region and for the people who live and work alongside SH35.
“From site preparation, through to the installation of these piers and the bridge deck itself, we’re working to make the bridge as safe as possible, as resilient as possible, and ensure it is fit for purpose until a long-term solution is finalised. Getting this right takes time and we appreciate people’s patience.”
Piling is expected to take another week to complete and then contractors will be able to construct the fabricated steel beams on the piers before the installation of the Bailey bridge timber deck takes place.
“Meanwhile earthworks are well underway at either end of the bridge.
“Waka Kotahi has worked closely with Ngāti Porou, landowners and the community throughout this process. We are incredibly grateful for the support we’ve received.
“Restoring safe, reliable access into and around Gisborne and the rest of Tairāwhiti has been, and continues to be, a top priority for us.
“Everyone involved has worked incredibly hard to restore that access as quickly as can be done so safely and opening the Bailey bridge later this month is a testament to that work,” says Ms Hankin.
Pictures showing the crane and the work to date onsite. The collapsed Hikuwai no.1 bridge can be seen to the right of the first photo.