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More bridge work needed

Following multiple breaches of a road closure for a maintenance project on the Tauwharenīkau Bridge, NZTA Waka Kotahi has announced it is now extending closure plans for the State Highway 53 bridge.

Trucks are known to have crossed the bridge on the night of Monday, May 13, “ignoring the traffic management controls in place to protect the bridge”, NZTA Wellington Alliance manager Roxanne Hilliard said.

“The bridge is having its bearings replaced and is currently on jacks,” and has been closed to heavy vehicles because they pose a serious risk to the integrity of the structure.

Following the banned crossing, engineers have had to do follow-up inspections to ensure the bridge hasn’t been damaged.

“For safety reasons, we cannot risk a repeat of Monday night’s incident; it simply creates too much risk for our work crews and the bridge,” Hilliard said.

This new restriction means that the Tauwharenīkau Bridge is now closed to all traffic until repairs to the bridge are completed next month.

Hillard acknowledged that the extended closure will disrupt the daily lives of residents and regular route users but said safety is the top priority.

“Unfortunately, given the events of Monday night, we have no other choice, and we are deeply disappointed we have had to make this call,” she said.

“Investigations into the closure breaches and those responsible are underway, and NZTA reserves the right to refer matters to police, if necessary.”

Disobeying a road closure is an offence under section 16A of the Land Transport Act 1998.

Until the repairs are finished in June, SH53 Tauwharenīkau Bridge will be closed 24/7, including during weekends, and all traffic will need to detour via Camp Rd, State Highway 2 and No.1 Line back onto SH53.

Residents will be able to access their properties via the detour.

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