Construction begins on Queenstown's Kawarau bridge

Artist impression of new Kawarau Falls bridge (Supplied)
Artist impression of new Kawarau Falls bridge (Supplied)

Construction has today begun on Queenstown's new $22 million Kawarau Falls Bridge.

To mark the occasion, Minister of Transport Simon Bridges was there to turn the first sod and plant a kowhai tree by the site.

The bridge is one of two South Island projects funded by the Government's Accelerated Regional Roading Package announced last year.

New Zealand Transport Agency southern regional director Jim Harland says it is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the Queenstown area.

"There has been strong growth in Frankton Flats, around Queenstown International Airport, in recent years. This is forecast to continue for the next 15 years or more and this new bridge will help smooth that growth and the growing traffic volumes," he says.

The bridge is being built to withstand a one- in-2500-year earthquake.

The existing Queenstown Kawarau Falls one-lane bridge (Supplied)

The historic 90-year-old, one-lane bridge it is replacing will become part of the Queenstown Trail cycling and walking network. A lack of traffic capacity, especially during peak winter ski and summer holiday periods, was frustrating visitors, locals and freight operators.

The other funded road project is SH73 Mingha Bluff realignment on State Highway 73 between Christchurch and Greymouth.

The Kawarau Falls Bridge is expected to be finished in 2017.

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