With delays caused largely by rain and rising river levels, South Westland’s Waiho Bailey bridge will not be reopened until this weekend, says the NZ Transport Agency.
Friday evening was the earlier hoped-for estimate. The day and time this weekend will be confirmed later this week. The bridge was destroyed in the 26 March flood which caused widespread infrastructure damage across Westland, and a fatality at a flooded river near Hokitika.
“Teams have worked hard to keep this project on track but last night’s and today’s rain and rapidly rising river levels have pushed this project beyond Friday,” says Moira Whinham, Maintenance Contract Manager, West Coast, for the Transport Agency.
Whilst the bridge structure was successfully rolled across the bridge piers to the north bank this afternoon, the raised river levels mean it cannot be fastened permanently until the river drops and work can start from the river bed. This work will take at least two days.
The bridge needs to be jacked, rocking rollers removed, new permanent bearings installed, and the whole structure safely fastened in place. The approaches also need to be completed once the bridge is positioned.
After the Bailey bridge is open to traffic, there is more work to do: sealing the approaches, reinstating guardrail, the pedestrian walkway and other work which will involve closures of up to an hour.
The South Westland townships of Fox, Franz Josef, and Haast, are open for business and welcome visitors from each side of the Waiho in the lead up to the reconnection at the Waiho River.
The weather forecast is good for South Westland from Friday, this weekend and next week. Showers should clear on Thursday, allowing the river to drop.
Both Franz Josef and Fox Glacier townships as well as Haast are open. People can still access the glaciers via helicopter/ flight once they are in the glacier villages.
Please see the project page (above) for updates and travel advice, photos of the work underway and time lapse video of work this week. This will be added to every day. The camera is on the north side of the river but points across to the Bailey bridge construction side. View the time lapse footage here:
Surface flooding at an old slip site, Diana Falls, near Haast has closed SH6 this afternoon. The site should be cleared in the morning with an update at 9 am.
The protective catch fencing/ rock cover at this site has done its job but needs to be cleared so the water drains as it is intended to do. Check this link: