The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is progressing preparations for a temporary single-lane bailey bridge to take traffic over the State Highway 21 (Airport Road) Waikato River Crossing, just south of Hamilton at the Narrows.
The fourth foundation is being completed today to enable a temporary bailey bridge to be installed immediately downstream of the existing bridge in the fastest possible timeframe. The bailey bridge will provide one lane of traffic, controlled by traffic signals.
Weather permitting, the NZTA is expecting to reopen the SH21 Waikato River crossing at the Narrows by the end of October.
The Narrows Bridge was closed on 16 September when the NZTA was unable to continue monitoring the erosion damage in the vicinity of the bridge due to rising river levels. The bridge will remain closed until the river level drops and further analysis of the river banks can be undertaken.
NZTA State Highway Manager Kaye Clark says, “We are doing everything we can to reopen the existing bridge before the end of October but that will depend on how quickly we can complete the assessment of the erosion near the existing structure and what that assessment shows us. We can’t complete the assessment until the river levels have receded and we can see if any further erosion damage has occurred.”
Because the Waikato River levels are expected to remain high and fluctuate for quite some time Mrs Clark says the NZTA has decided to go ahead with the installation of the temporary bailey bridge and to keep it open until the remedial works are completed.
The NZTA started bank stabilisation works last week to address the erosion and scouring issues that were identified prior to the bridge’s closure. This work involves stabilising and strengthening the river banks to protect Narrows Bridge from further erosion and is expected to take up to four months to complete.
The closure of the Narrows Bridge will require some travelers to Hamilton International Airport to take an alternative route. People travelling to Hamilton International Airport on SH21 from the Tamahere side of the city are advised to allow approximately 30 additional minutes for their journey. The recommended route to and from the airport during the Narrows Bridge closure is via SH3 (Ohaupo Road). Detour signs are in place.
Motorists heading to Hamilton International Airport from the south are advised to follow the detour signs, which start just south of Cambridge.