The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZ Transport Agency) has opened a new bridge over the Wandle River, connecting Waiau and Peketa / Kaikōura.

The opening of the bridge on the Inland Road / Route 70 followed four months of construction work. It replaces the older bridge, which was severely damaged in the November 2016 earthquake.

A temporary Bailey bridge was deployed to enable traffic movement. This has now been removed.

The new Wandle Bridge construction used a total of 290m³ of concrete and ten bridge beams with piles drilled up to 24m deep.

It was delivered by NZ Transport Agency’s North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery team (NCTIR).

The opening ceremony was attended by Hurunui District Council staff and NCTIR’s alliance engineers and workers.

Building the bridge was part of the larger work programme to completely rehabilitate the Inland Road / Route 70 to enable pre-earthquake levels of service.

NZ Transport Agency NCTIR manager Colin Knaggs said that the Inland Road / Route 70 serves as a key road, specifically for the larger vehicles unable to operate on State Highway 1 south of Kaikōura over the Hundalees.

Knaggs added: “It provides an alternative route to and from Kaikōura for all road users in the event of an emergency, something the 2016 earthquake made very real for residents and townspeople.

“The Transport Agency recognises the importance of this road and, in addition to the earthquake repair work we carried out, we allocated NZD10m towards roading improvements as part of the NCTIR programme.”

All work on the Inland Road / Route 70 is expected to be completed by July this year. Subsequently, the Hurunui District Council will take over the operations and maintenance of the route.