The NZTA expects to carry out strength testing on the Waitaki Bridges on SH82 near Kurow on Thursday, which will allow a decision to be made on when the bridges can be re-opened to traffic.
Flood damage to one of the piers on the north bridge meant the bridges had to be closed last Tuesday for safety reasons. Pedestrian and cyclists are able to use the bridge between 6am and 10pm each day.
NZTA Area Manager Colin Hey says the agency understands the hardship and inconvenience the closure is causing for local residents and businesses, and the NZTA has been working around the clock to find a solution to re-open the bridges as soon as possible.
Mr Hey says the Agency’s bridge consultant is now confident that the structure bridge structure can be safely tested on Thursday. The results of a hydrological survey late last week has confirmed that the localised scouring around a pier on the northern bridge has now begun to fill in again.
“This means there is now sufficient gravel around the pier to give confidence that proof-loading to test the strength of the bridges can be done safely. Meridian Energy is also confident river flows can be returned to normal over the next 48 hours. This assessment is based on current lake inflows and the long-term weather outlook.”
Mr Hey says the NIWA survey identified significant scouring around another pier at the northern end of the north bridge. With river levels expected to return to normal by Thursday, a detailed inspection of this pier should be possible to assess any potential damage.
Mr Hey added that decisions on a date for re-opening the bridges and any ongoing restrictions will hinge on the results of the proof loading tests, which are expected to be available on Friday.