New Kopu Bridge Opened
It’s hard to believe but this Christmas you won’t have to wait for ages to cross the Kopu Bridge at busy times.
Prime Minister John Key and an equally smiling transport minister Steven Joyce today opened the new $47m two-lane Kopu bridge and the public was able to go for a stroll before traffic uses it from Monday.
The project involved the construction of a new 580m-long, two-lane bridge over the Waihou River, a new four-leg, two-lane roundabout at the junction of SH25 and SH26, and 2.5km of associated approach roads, including a new link road to SH26 east of the bridge.
The new bridge is 12.95m wide with 3.5m wide traffic lanes, 1.2m shoulders and a combined pedestrian/cycle lane on the north side of the bridge.
This pedestrian/cycle lane is separated from the traffic lanes by a concrete barrier with designs cast in the concrete.The previous one lane bridge was built in 1927/8 and is still considered structurally sound.
It will remain because of its heritage value and may be used for cycling and walking.
The new bridge is built on soft soils, the piles are up to 55m deep, and 6-8 piles are required to support each bridge pier. NZTA Project Services Manager Bryce Carter says that if all the piles were laid end to end, they would reach from Kopu to Thames.
The piles extend up to 55m into the bed of the Waihou River. Soils in this area are soft silts laid down by the river over thousands of years, so long piles were needed to support the weight of the bridge.
The project was begun under Labour but the National Government brought it forward in 2009 as part of the government jobs and growth plan. The government says the project created 50 jobs that would not have been available and local services were able to supply their input.
It was due to be finished about mid-2012.
Obviously it’s been finished ahead of time so can be used at Christmas when there can be queues of cars for 10 kilometres.
I’ve been stuck in such queues at that time of year – and am looking forward to trying out the new bridge on Christmas Day.