The NZ Transport Agency has replaced the Kopu Bridge on State Highway 25, south of Thames. This route is considered strategically important in the National State Highway Network. It is the preferred link between Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, and carries high volumes of visitor traffic. It is also an essential link for emergency services.
The Kopu Bridge replacement project includes:
- A new two-lane bridge, 580m long, with a cycle/walkway.
- 2.5km of new approach roads, including a new link road to SH26 east of the bridge.
- A new four-leg, two-lane roundabout at the junction of SH25 and SH26.
- Associated drainage, signage, barriers, roadmarkings, landscaping and other ancillary works.
- Services relocations including water mains, electricity, sewer pipes and telecommunications
- The widening of SH26 north of the of the SH25/26 junction to include a flush median and wide left hand shoulder.
- Cultural design features, including:
- 10 Pou
- Waka etching
- Water etching and design on handrails and concrete barriers
- Patiki etching
- Ureia (Taniwha) bridge Pepeha
The 42.8m central span of the new bridge is the main navigational channel for boats. The underside of the central span is 6.5m above mean sea level, providing sufficient height for large river boats to pass under.
The existing bridge is classified as a Category 1 historic structure by the Historic Places Trust.
The new two-lane Kopu Bridge was officially opened by Prime Minister John Key on Saturday, 10 December. A public bridge walk was held the same day and attracted 8000–10,000 people.
The bridge opened to traffic on Monday 12 December 2011, approximately six months ahead of schedule. Finishing works on other parts of the project continued until early 2012.