The New Zealand (NZ) Transport Agency plans to proceed with the construction of a new two-lane bridge after investigating and validating various options for the replacement of the existing Opawa Bridge, in Blenheim.
According to the investigation report, the existing bridge was too narrow and unsuitable to meet current transport needs. The agency has planned to retain the existing bridge, which is a Heritage NZ Category 1 Heritage Place, and can be used by pedestrians and cyclists.
NZ Transport Agency regional director Raewyn Bleakley said: “Public engagement is important in informing any of the proposals we prepare.
“The feedback we received confirmed what the local community has been saying for some time, that the Opawa Bridge is inadequate in serving the needs of local residents and of state highway road users.”
As part of the investigation, the NZ Transport Agency has reviewed 13 separate options to replace the bridge.
The investigation process also included community feedback on the proposed options, and the agency received over 170 items of feedback from individuals, stakeholders, organisations, societies and interest groups.
Bleakley added: “We note the community support expressed in the feedback for a bypass, but this does not change the need to replace the existing Opawa Bridge.
“It’s not a matter of a bypass or a bridge as both serve different purposes and needs.
"It’s important to replace the Opawa Bridge now because the local community uses the bridge to access central Blenheim from the north.
"The bridge is also an important link on State Highway 1 between Picton and Christchurch, particularly for freight.”
The NZ Transport Agency will now prepare to lodge consent applications for a new Opawa bridge.