The newly rebuilt Hinahina Bridge was officially opened to light vehicles on Monday morning.
Attending the formal ribbon cutting ceremony at the bridge near Owaka were more than 50 area residents, contractors, Clutha District Council staff, managers, the mayor and councillors.
Council engineer and project manager Gerry Essenberg said the $3.4 million bridge was completed ‘‘on time, on design and on budget in under 12 months’’.
More than 11,000 man hours went into completing the major works project, which included demolishing the old bridge, built in 1957, and then constructing an entirely new bridge over a tidal water flow.
More than 300cu mof reinforced concrete was used in its construction.
Resident Melanie Burgess, whose house overlooks the bridge, said it was ‘‘impressive’’ watching the old bridge being demolished.
‘‘It was amazing watching the skill of the workers as they moved the beams out over the water and into place when they rebuilt it,’’ she said.
Thirty 23m›long Hollowcore beams make up the five bridge spans, giving it a total length of 123m.
The innovative demolition and construction techniques used meant that a temporary bridge was not required. This resulted in large cost savings and considerably less impact on the environment, Mr Essenberg said.
Piling for the new bridge was carried using the existing structure as a construction platform.
Demolition was carried out by winching 25›tonne sections of the bridge to shore via a 120›tonne capacity winch.
The new bridge beams were then launched using a beam and gantry crane set up, reducing the size of cranes needed on site.
The crews lived in Owaka during the works, and locals were employed on the job whenever possible, Mr Essenberg said.
Local resident Jim Berney recalled how his grandfather and father had both worked on the original bridge, and said it was an asset to the community.
‘‘It links the various settlements here, and the people of the district to Owaka.
‘‘Once again it brings them all together.”
The bridge is still closed to heavy goods vehicles until further work can be completed on the road approaches.