End of line for overbridge
A long-awaited bypass at Normanby is open.
Traffic is now using the newlysealed highway that bypasses a stretch of road and the notorious overbridge where, since 1995, three fatal crashes and nine serious injury crashes have resulted in seven deaths and 12 serious injuries.
The next step for the project is the removal of the existing bridge and its southern ramp, which was scheduled to be by the end of November. The bridge structure would be taken down on October 28-30, NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) highway manager Ross I’Anson said.
At present traffic on the new route is restricted to 30km/h, and this would remain until the project is complete in late February.
‘‘We will monitor this closely and, if we can safely increase this to 50 km/h, we will do so,’’ I’Anson said. ‘‘¸We urge motorists to keep to the posted reduced speed limits and to carefully observe the signage directing them on to the correct routes. This will help keep everyone safe including other drivers and the road workers in the area.’’
Approximately 6000-7000 vehicles used the section of highway per day.
Downer project manager Daryll Walker said local businesses and the community had been very supportive of the team working to create the new bypass.
Funding for the bypass came after years of strong campaigning from South Taranaki District councillors and others.
MP for Whanganui Chester Borrows was rapt the new road was finally open. Borrows’ said his campaigning for the bridge to be replaced began decades back, while he was a police officer in South and Central Taranaki.
‘‘As anyone who has been involved with South Taranaki emergency services over the last 30 years knows, this bridge has seen too many injuries and fatal accidents. It took far too long, I am really pleased the Government has got it done.’’
In November 2015, excavations for the bypass uncovered a marae or pa site that was believed to be the location of the Ketemarae Pa. Its discovery delayed work while a solution acceptable to Heritage New Zealand and the Arakuuku Hapu was found, with the final decision being made to build the road over the site instead of going through it, which would have required excavation.
The Normanby overbridge realignment project is almost complete.