Change coming…but old bridges stand test of time

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The 132-year-old twin hardwood bridges crossing the Waitaki River at Kurow have stood up to another onslaught of Christmas-New Year holiday traffic, but it will be for the last time.

Next to the old single-lane bridges, two new 96m and 206m double lane bridges are taking shape.

New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) spokesperson Jan McCarthy said the $20.1m project was proceeding on schedule and it was expected the shorter of the two bridges would be opening to traffic in March.

Work would then start on deconstructing the old bridge beside it.

Pier and pier head construction on the second and longer of the two bridges has started on the Hakataramea side of the river and this is expected to be completed mid-March. Structural steel will then be installed.

This bridge is expected to be open for traffic by September.

Two sections from the old wooden bridges will be kept and displayed on Kurow Island, with the remaining material being gifted to the Waitaki and Waimate district councils and Department of Conservation.

The new bridges are being constructed with weathering steel, which will give them a rusty appearance. They will not be painted.

The project is part of the NZTA’s $1 billion investment programme in Canterbury’s transport network from 2012 to 2015.

By CHRIS TOBIN

PHOTO: Carol Edwards

OLD AND NEW: One of the old hardwood bridges at Kurow, left, and its new replacement being built, right.