State Highway 25A – is it set to be open before Christmas?
Written by John Grant on November 10, 2023
By John Freer & John Grant
CFM believes progress on the new bridge has been so good and combined with clear indications including dates for sealing the bridge, that an opening before Christmas is very likely, and we believe a date of 18 December is a real possibility. If this happens it will be an outstanding result for NZTA and their hard-working contractors Fulton Hogan and McConnell Dowell and their sub contractors.
When approached NZTA have told CFM that “we continue to make excellent progress on the bridge and can assure the community that we will be getting the road open to traffic as early as possible. We will be in a position to give an updated estimated opening date, once the critical deck work is complete.” CFM understands that this work is nearing completion apart from sealing.
NZTA last month advised CFM that the project was 60 percent through, that was as at 24 October, and this was after a late July start. Therefore, 60 percent of the work was achieved in three months, and as one construction expert told us, that was the difficult part of the job. At that time NZTA said it was confident that the project will achieve the March 2024 target date, and indicated in a statement that, “we are working hard to try to open the bridge to traffic earlier if possible. We will start installing the 138 precast deck panels in November and if this goes well, we will be able to potentially advise an earlier completion date.”
There was a provision that the works were very dependent on the weather playing ball. “We know how much it would mean to reopen the road for summer and we’re doing everything we can to try and make that happen.” Since then, it is understood that the precast paneling is virtually complete, and the sealing of the bridge has been scheduled for early December.
CFM’s contacts are talking of a potential opening date of December 18, if not a day or two earlier.
While progress on the bridge has been nothing short of outstanding and being achieved because most of the red tape was removed due to the emergency nature of the work, contractors were lucky with material supply.
The bridge steel work came from Napier and was available with virtually immediate supply. The weather except for one week has played its part.
NZTA has been attempting three years of maintenance on the rest of the road while it is closed for the bridge work. If the road is reopened prior to Christmas, it is understood the maintenance program will not be completed. This will lead to some areas continuing to be worked on with some restrictions but we’re sure you will agree, this is a small frustration for the benefit of having this key lifeline reopened.
A reopening before Christmas will bring an economic boost to both sides of the Peninsula that have weathered the impact of the loss of this key east/west link. Traffic volumes have been way down with traffic measurement in Tairua showing declines of over 60%, even comparing with the covid years of 2020, 2021 and 2022. Most small businesses have some degree of reliance on tourism and have seen financial impacts of reduced visitor numbers.
With a long hot summer forecast, having SH25a back in operation is the news most locals will want to hear. Hopefully an official statement on this will follow in the next week or two.