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QRS and Lattey Group pay homage to bridge builders of old

New Barker Brdige in May 2021 Canva

Fifty-five years ago Barker Bridge on Ruakituri Road was built by a very busy TJ Greig who’d successfully tended Wairoa County Council for the job.

It was the 1960s and linking settlements with better roads was considered important work after a break in roadworks during the war years.

Despite the old-style machinery and difficult terrain Quality Roading and Services project engineer Chris McGregor reckons Mr Greig and his team did a good job, particularly with the abutments. He should know because QRS, with the help of subcontractors, has now replaced the existing bridge and everyone involved says it's been a huge success.

“Bridge abutments connect the deck or surface of the bridge to the ground, and they help support its weight. For short bridges, one abutment is placed at either end of the bridge and connected to the embankment which was the case here,” says Mr McGregor.

“In the assessment of the original bridge we could see that there had been no evidence of abutment scouring. While we needed to strengthen everything on top, the abutments had held fast.”

QRS worked with large crane and superstructure manufacturing company Lattey Group to remove the old bridge and put the new bridge’s superstructure and deck in place.

The two companies have worked together before and because of that history, and their individual expertise, the road was closed for just five days while workers prepared the site, removed most of the old bridge structure and attached the new one.

Lattey Group civil manager Scott Dobson says his team pre-built the bridge superstructure in their fabrication workshop then delivered it on site along with a 90-tonne crane to do the heavy lifting.

He says the team work was fantastic and everyone collaborated while troubleshooting potential hold ups or shortcomings in the finished structure.

“It all comes down to accuracy, dimension checks, planning and collaboration. It was a great project to be involved in.”

Barker Bridge is 12.19m long and 9.2km along Ruakituri Road. It spans a tributary stream that flows into the Ruakituri River and has around 120 traffic movements over it each day. Just under half of them are classified as heavy traffic – stock truck and trailer units, and log trucks, for example.

The successful bridge strengthening project now means that HPMV (high productivity motor vehicles) weighing up to 65 tonnes can safely cross the bridge.

“The upgrade, funded by the Provincial Growth Fund, allows for greater load-carrying capacity resulting in fewer trucks on the road, reduced wear and tear on road infrastructure, and an increase in regional productivity,” says Mr McGregor.

He thanked road users and nearby residents for putting up with the short, but no doubt frustrating, five day road closure and described them as “patient” while the work was being carried out.

“We are very grateful to the support we recieved. Some people had to build in an extra hour of travel to get to Wairoa on those days and so it was definitely an inconvencience.”

QRS staff involved in the bridge strengthening project were Aaron Munro, Arnold Smith, Sami Banuve, Woody Lange, Dason Haapu, and Justin Kaimoana.

QRS has no record of who worked with Mr Greig back in 1966 after winning the contract to build the original bridge for £NZ 2898. He must have had quite a team considering he was successfully tendering for other culvert work at the time.

“He did a good job!” says Mr McGregor. “I suspect he would be surprised to learn how much more capital injection is needed today!”

24 June 2021

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