The Pekatahi Bridge, located immediately north-west of the township of Tāneatua, has had a weight restriction added today, Thursday 10 November.
Effective immediately, vehicles weighing more than 6 tonnes (6,000kg) are unable to use the bridge, and instead need to detour through Whakatāne via State Highway 30, Hinemoa Street, Arawa Road, Valley Road and Taneatua Road. This detour will add an extra 20 minutes to travel time. (Map attached.)
The weight restriction has been implemented due to structural damage to the bridge that requires urgent repair work. Until this work is completed heavy vehicles cannot use the bridge to ensure the damage does not worsen.
At the same time the wooden planks that form the top surface layer of the bridge are wearing away in places, leaving holes in the surface of the bridge.
While the restriction will be frustrating for regular users of the bridge, safety of road users and structural integrity of the bridge are the main priorities, says Roger Brady, Bay of Plenty System Manager, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
“Maintenance of the bridge planks will take place mid-December; this will include work on the bridge deck as well as underneath the bridge. This is the earliest timeframe that we have both resource and material available to complete the work.”
Work will commence on Monday 12 December, and is expected to take one week to complete. During this week the bridge will be fully closed to all traffic from 7am to 6pm each day. The bridge will then re-open to light vehicles (under 6 tonnes) each night, until 6pm Friday 16 December, when the bridge will be available again to all vehicle weights.
“Safety for road users and crews is vitally important; routine maintenance of the bridge planks is undertaken throughout each year, and in this instance, we have made the decision to combine this with the required structural work. Closing the bridge is required due to the narrow width of the available lane and allows our crews to work safely and in an uninterrupted manner, which helps us complete the work quickly.”
Signage is being installed by contractors this week to ensure road users are aware of the weight restriction.
The Pekatahi Bridge was the last road and rail bridge in the Bay of Plenty to have railway tracks removed, which took place in 2017.