Bridge to reopen

Waiho Bridge
Waiho Bridge
A West Coast link is set to be reconnected when the Waiho River bridge reopens today.

The nearly 30-year-old Bailey bridge was washed away on March 26 after heavy rain swept through South Westland, cutting off access between Fox Glacier and Franz Josef.

Since then, a team of contractors, the New Zealand Defence Force, designers and members of the local community have been working hard to get a new Bailey bridge in place.

"People have been working extremely hard to get the bridge back over the river and reconnect the communities in South Westland," NZ Transport Agency maintenance contract manager Moira Whinham said.

It was originally planned to reopen the bridge last night but heavy rain and rising river levels meant it was postponed it until this morning.

The bridge will be officially opened at 11am.

People wanting to attend the opening on the Franz Josef side of the river should come prepared for a short outdoor event and blessing from Te Runanga o Makaawhio, Ms Whinham said.

Traffic would be allowed across the bridge in each direction in turn, once the ceremony was completed.

There was more work to do on the bridge and road users should be prepared for a slightly slower journey during the next few weeks, the NZTA advised.

This work would include sealing approaches and reinstating the guardrail and walkway. Closures could take up to an hour.

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