Construction of the Kaituna River Bridge has hit top gear with the NZ Transport Agency confident the Tauranga Eastern Link will be finished ahead of schedule.
The 150 metre bridge, expected to be completed by May and open to heavy construction only traffic, had the first of seven concrete sections poured on Tuesday.
Construction is ahead of schedule for the completion of the Kaituna River Bridge.
NZ Transport Agency senior project manager Wayne Troughton says construction is looking good following more than 270 steel sections, including steel girders and cross members, being lifted into place since November.
“Now the 100mm pre-cast and re-enforced concrete panels will slot together like a jigsaw puzzle. Once it is all complete a final layer of concrete will laid.”
The four span bridge will cross over a re-aligned Bell Road and Kaituna River and will be the longest of the seven bridges being built for the $455 million TEL project four-laning from Te Maunga near ASB Stadium to Paengaroa.
The four lane bridge will carry two lanes of traffic in each direction, separated by a median wire rope barrier. A three metre wide pedestrian/cycleway will be constructed on the eastern side of the bridge.
NZ Transport Agency structures manager Chris Hunt says the bridge helps future proof the area while providing a link between Papamoa East and the Rangiuru Business Park.
The bridge is similar to the Kopu bridge structure, but because of the higher level of heavy traffic, which will cross the Kaituna Bridge there are more stringent requirements, says Chris.
“The 250mm thick bridge is made up of four main steel beams with transoms set out between each one providing flexibility and stability.”
Unlike most bridges, the bridge is deceiving as most of the work has already been done underground, with the 68 pillars being driven to depths of 55 metres required to construct the two bridge abutments and three piers that will support the bridge beams.
“So once all the work had been done below things have sped up considerably,” says Chris.
When it opens to traffic in 2016, the four-lane Tauranga Eastern Link will run from Mount Maunganui near ASB Stadium to the existing junction of State Highway 2 and 33 near Paengaroa. It will be made up of 17km of new road and an upgrade of six kilometres of existing highway.
The Tauranga Eastern Link is one of seven ‘Roads of National Significance’ identified by Government as essential state highway projects linked to New Zealand’s economic prosperity.