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Bridge project gets green light

Matakohe bridges team-917Work on replacing the twin single-lane bridges on State Highway 12 at Matakohe is another step closer to reality with the appointment of contractors Fulton Hogan and engineering company Aurecon winning the $40.7 million contract package to replace three one-way bridges in Northland as part of the government's pledge to improve the region's neglected transport infrastructure.

The two bridges at Matakohe and one at Taipa in the Far North have long been contentious issues in relation to growing traffic numbers and weights, their somewhat precarious positioning and the fact that they are still one-lane bridges on main highways.

Of the total contract cost, $26.1 million is allocated to the Matakohe job, part of which includes land purchase necessary for the re-alignment.

“The narrow width of the current bridges causes delays during the busy visitor season which are linked to driver frustration and risk-taking behaviours which can lead to crashes,” Transport Minister Simon Bridges said of the Matakohe crossings.

“For example, there were 15 reported crashes on or near the bridges between 2005 and 2014. The improvements include a realignment of the state highway to remove the tight bends approaching the bridges.”

As a bonus, provision will be made for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians crossing the bridges. A new intersection for the Kauri Museum will also be built with cycling connections provided along the Twin Coast Discovery route.

“Public consultation on the preferred alignment for both the bridges will take place in the first quarter of this year. This is in addition to the public feedback already collected following a series of open days in October last year. Construction is expected to start later this year,” the Minister added.

Matakohe bridge campaigner Sue Reyland, says she is “very thrilled with the minister’s announcement. Moving forward will be exciting after campaigning for five years to firstly get the problems recognised at a national level and then to get something done about it.”

While it has taken nearly five years to this point, Mrs Reyland recognises there is a process which must be followed and has the utmost respect for those she has dealt with along the way from locals to Iwi, Government and contractors.

A public information day will be held this Thursday, February 23 at Matakohe War Memorial Hall, 3-7pm.

BRIDGE TEAM: Helen Kerr (design manager, Fulton Hogan), Sue Reyland (safety campaigner), Jenny Scott (communications, Fulton Hogan), Vivian Tadros (project engineer, NZTA).

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