Ten of the 11 bridges on the Peka Peka to Ōtaki expressway project – including the big Ōtaki River bridge – are expected to be substantially completed by Christmas.
Bridge 9 over the rail corridor near Makahuri (Mary Crest) is the odd one out, with more work required.
Fletchers has told Ōtaki Today that the east-west bridges, such as on Ōtaki Gorge Road and at Te Horo, will be open to public traffic by the end of the first quarter next year. There has been an emphasis on completing the bridges so construction traffic can use them to move material and personnel, and to open other areas up for work.
Having heavy machinery and other vehicles able to use the bridges will reduce the need for them to go on the busy highway and local roads.
There are 11 bridges on the project; two at the southern end are box culverts but because of their size they are technically bridges. Three are currently open to public traffic – the first two being on the highway near County Road, and the Rāhui Road bridge. The 11 bridges will carry roads and or pedestrians, and there are five small spans that will be part of the shared pathway.
Numbering for the main bridges begins in the north, with Bridge 1 at Waitohu Stream; bridges 2 and 3 over the expressway and the rail corridor; Bridge 4 over both the new expressway and rail corridor at Rāhui Road; Bridge 5 over the Otaki River; bridges 6 and 7 over the rail corridor and the expressway at Ōtaki Gorge Road; Bridge 8 over the new expressway, rail corridor and what is currently the highway at Te Horo; then south of Te Horo are Bridge 9 over the rail corridor, Bridge 10 over a local road, and Bridge 11 is for the shared user path to pass under the new expressway.
Fletchers says working over the Ōtaki River was challenging because the team was aware the river could rise quickly in flood around the piers. More recently, Bridge 8 at Te Horo had the challenge of co-ordinating highway and rail closures in the early morning to lift in place bridge deck elements.
The Ōtaki River bridge (pictured) is the biggest on the whole Mackays to Ōtaki expressway network. It is 300 metres long and comprises 10 spans to carry two lanes of traffic in each direction, as well as the shared user path.
Meanwhile, the inside of the underpass for the shared pathway at Bridge 10 will be decorated with artwork from Te Horo School pupils.