Matahorua Gorge Bridges
1This realignment of State Highway 2, 52km north of Napier, at the gateway of magnificent Te Urewera National Park, was completed in January 2011. It was officially opened on 11 March 2011 by the Minister for Transport, Stephen Joyce. The new route provides a shorter, more reliable path across the steep, 70m gorge – with far fewer challenging and dangerous twists and turns for drivers.
2Holmes Consulting’s expert bridge engineers were responsible for the design of two bridges in the Matahorua Gorge realignment project. First up was the 35m rail overbridge, a 9m span precast concrete tunnel structure, with geogrid mechanically-stabilised earth walls on the approaches to retain the road embankments. The road bridge was a different challenge – spanning a far wider part of the gorge. The need to protect the stream and close surrounds were a priority in this part of the project, so our engineers set their minds to find solutions that minimised the impact on the environment, as well as providing the economy and value for money the NZTA required.
3The final result was a striking three span steel-composite superstructure with raked steel framed box section piers supported from the sides of the sandstone gorge, the piles for which were excavated by hand. The clever design use of materials eliminated the need for a central pier founded in the riverbed, reducing the overall impact on the environment. The new route takes you through the area far faster than the old one, but, while you’re zipping through, tip your hat to the intelligent engineering holding up the bridge.