Regular users of State Highway 50 can breathe a little easier, with the Waipawa Bridge set to reopen to traffic from Friday afternoon (25 August) following a blessing onsite this Thursday.
Some people have had to travel up to half an hour more since torrential and persistent rainfall caused a washout in one of the approaches to the bridge in late June, closing the stretch of highway between Tikokino and Ongaonga.
Waka Kotahi Hawke’s Bay/Tairāwhiti System Manager Martin Colditz says more than 16,000 tonnes of aggregate was used to rebuild the approach to the bridge - the equivalent of the weight of more than six Olympic sized pools.
“SH50 is a crucial link north for the Central Hawke’s Bay community and an important connection to and from the lower North Island. Getting this part of the network back up and running has been a significant priority, with a massive effort by our contractors.
“Engineers were quickly on site once the washout occurred to assess the bridge structure as structurally sound.
“While designs were completed to restore the approach to the bridge, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council assisted and guided our contractors to re-direct the river away from the washed out abutments. This took more than one attempt, given recent poor weather in the area, but meant contractors could properly access the site and start the rebuild.”
Work to restore the approach began just over a month ago, on 17 July, and has progressed quickly.
“It’s been a big job. In addition to the large quantity of aggregate, we’ve used approximately 5,000 tonnes of limestone. The project has also required 17,500 square metres of geostabilising fabric,” says Mr Colditz.
“Thank you to the road users and communities of SH50 – the sudden closure has been frustrating and has meant longer travel times on detour routes. The job of restoring this vital link has been made all the easier with everyone’s support.