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West Coast Arahura Bridge to be replaced

West Coast Arahura Bridge to be replaced

The century old bridge is a vital part of the West Coast rail and road network which cannot be allowed to deteriorate any further.

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ONTRACK will be replacing the wooden road and rail bridge at Arahura with a new concrete structure, which will incorporate both road and rail on a single deck, Finance Minister Michael Cullen and Transport Minister Annette King, announced today.

"The century old bridge is a vital part of the West Coast rail and road network which cannot be allowed to deteriorate any further. That is why we have asked ONTRACK and Transit to move on this project immediately," the Ministers said.

"A two lane road will be on the western side of the bridge with rail on the eastern
side separated by a divider."

The rail - road crossing will be at the southern end of the bridge with appropriate signaling systems, thus negating the need for give ways which exist at present.

No final price for the multi-million dollar project is available as the contract has yet to be tendered. Construction is expected to begin around the middle of next year with the new bridge completed within two years. Funding was provided in Budget 2006's transport package, which aims to accelerate key projects.

The bridge just north of Hokitika on State Highway 6 is one of the few combined rail and road bridges still in use. It was originally built in 1887 and spans 200 metres.

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor said the announcement provided certainty to local people and businesses, and was a promise delivered by the Government.

"The bridge is strategically very important to the Coast, and I am delighted that work can begin within months. I'd like to acknowledge the work of the Arahura Bridge Coalition, which has worked hard to progress this project.

"I am grateful for the help of local iwi Kati Waewae. We have listened to their concerns and ensured the bridge is kept to its current alignment to minimise disruption to an area of high cultural importance to Kati Waewae."

The Ministers said: "New Zealanders, including West Coasters, deserve first class transport infrastructure and that's why the Labour-led government is investing $13.4 billion over the next five years on the biggest road building programme the country has seen, together with another $1 billion on upgrading rail."

"If we are to transform this economy it is vital we have the most efficient road and rail network."

ENDS

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