Opihi River rail bridge upgrade begins
A $5 million upgrade of rail bridge across the Opihi River is underway.
KiwiRail spokeswoman Faith Thumath said 15 piers in the active waterway would be replaced.
Two piers on the bridge were replaced in 2001 and 2013 following flood damage.
The latest project had not affected train services, and services would continue to operate while work continues.
The 512 metre bridge is about two kilometres south of Temuka. It was built in 1932, replacing the original bridge which was constructed in the late 1800s.
As the depth of the river under the bridge had increased over time, the piles on the bridge had been scoured out, Thumath said.
‘‘Storm events and flooding in 2000 and 2013 highlighted this problem, and the bridge needing work to minimise the risk of future disruption of the rail network.
‘‘The bridge structure itself is safe and in good condition, and only the 15 piers located in the main waterway, out of the total of 41, need replacing.’’
To do that, KiwiRail and its contractors, Fulton Hogan, jacked up the bridge onto temporary supports.
New concrete piles would be bored approximately 19 metres below the river bed level, and the existing piers would be demolished and replaced.
‘‘This provides the simplest, most efficient, and most robust long-term solution with least dis- ruption to rail operations during construction.’’