MP Dr. Nick Smith at the opening of two bridges across the Upper Buller River and Homestead Creek on SH 63 yesterday.

New bridges on SH 63 to ease traffic

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Two new bridges have been opened on State Highway 63 to help with traffic flow following the disruptions from the November Kaikoura earthquake.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the opening of the two temporary bridges will improve safety and reduce travel times while repairs to State Highway 1 are underway.

The stretch of highway between St Arnaud and Kawatiri has had the most dramatic increase in traffic volumes from the redirection of SH1, with an increase from an average of 300 vehicles per day to 2,000 per day.

“The alternate state highway route has been coping with a significant increase in traffic volumes since the November 14 Kaikoura earthquake,” says Simon Bridges.

“This is putting the road under a good deal of strain, and providing duplicate bridges at these three pinch points will help to improve safety and reduce delays for everyone using the road.”

The new Bailey bridges (temporary steel structures) have been installed alongside permanent one-way bridges at Upper Buller and Homestead Creek west of St Arnaud, allowing traffic to flow safely in both directions at all times easing traffic.

A third duplicate Bailey bridge has also been installed at Speargrass Creek, and will open to traffic later this month.

The bridges, including approaches and guard rails, cost $300,000 each, totalling over $900,000.

Local MP Nick Smith says these new bridges will improve the safety and efficiency of this alternate highway while the massive rebuild of SH1 occurs over the next year.

“I pay tribute to the New Zealand Transport Agency and its contractors for responding to community concerns and getting these bridges constructed so quickly.”

State Highway 1 is expected to be restored within the next 12 months.