West Coast bridge repair bill tops $1 million

More than $1 million has been spent repairing the washed out section of the Wanganui Bridge on the West Coast ahead of its reopening tomorrow.

State Highway 6 has been closed since January 2 after a 10m section of the approach to the single lane bridge near Harihari was washed away during heavy rain.

The gap subsequently increased to 40m.

It severed communications to South Westland and disrupted travel and freight plans for drivers.

Contractors, many from Greymouth, have been working 15 hour days to reopen the vital tourist and truck route.

Westland Milk Products' fleet, bolstered by contractors, peaked on Saturday with 55 trucks, many of them carting milk into Southland to be processed.

New Zealand Transport Agency West Coast area manager Mark Pinner said today it was still on track to open the bridge again tomorrow.

Work on the abutment was completed yesterday, although Mr Pinner said it had been a slow process as they needed to be careful while doing it.

Mr Pinner said the cost of the work was more than $1m.

The process of restoring the road involved building up layers of stone and gravel to get to the level of the bridge. About 100,000 cubic metres of gravel and stone had been used, in addition to 6000 tonnes of rock, and Mr Pinner estimated more would be needed.

He said the NZTA would look at rebuilding the bridge to how it had been, but the priority at the moment was to get the road open and safe for drivers to cross again.

Mr Pinner said they would be putting more rocks upstream to try and control the river in the future and try and keep it in its channel.

Situations like this were a "rare event" and the NZTA was doing as much as possible to restore the road.

The road was expected to reopen at noon.

- Nicholas McBride of the Greymouth Star