New Zealand is set to open its newly constructed road bridge across the Taramakau River between Kumara Junction and Greymouth on 22 July.

The bridge has been constructed with an investment of NZ$25m ($16.94m) and was expected to be completed in two years. However, contractor Fulton Hogan completed the project in approximately 18 months.

New Zealand Transport Agency regional relationships director Jim Harland said: “We understand that many west coasters will be keen to travel across the old, single-lane bridge for the last time as close as they can to its closure to road traffic, but given the likely congestion, we advise people to do it sooner and not wait until the last minute Sunday.”

“The new bridge will offer a safer transport link for west coast locals and tourists and features a 2.5m-wide pedestrian and cycling path on one side.”

“We will be installing temporary speed restrictions from Kumara Junction to the bridge and back towards Greymouth to allow parking and keep any pedestrians and cyclists on the highway safe.

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“We ask that people make a special effort to ensure this is a safe and enjoyable occasion for families and a great celebration for the wider west coast.”

The new bridge will offer a safer transport link for west coast locals and tourists and features a 2.5m-wide pedestrian and cycling path on one side.

It forms part of the West Coast Wilderness Trail, which connects Greymouth, Kumara and Ross.

Rail traffic will continue to use the existing bridge. The realigned road will pass over the existing rail line south of the river.

Approximately 3,500 vehicles are expected to drive along the Taramakau Bridge each day on State Highway 6.