NZTA acknowledges Albert Town bridge needs upgrade

by Lauren Pattemore - Apr 11, 2024

With Hāwea's population set to grow by thousands in coming years, the New Zealand Transport Agency agrees with residents the one-lane bridge connecting the town to Wānaka soon won't cut it. 

However, designs for its replacement won't be drawn up for another three years at least.

Albert Town Community Association chairperson Heather Thorne says there has been a huge increase in traffic over the bridge.

How it will hold up as Hāwea's population continues to boom is a "main concern" for the association, Ms Thorne says. 

She believes "forward planning" is essential. 

A latest planning decision enables Hāwea's urban footprint to more than double, and the number of vehicles travelling around the Upper Clutha is set to grow exponentially.

A NZTA spokesperson says an "indicative business case" for a bridge upgrade, where State Highway 6 crosses the Clutha/Mata-Au River at Albert Town, was prepared a number of years ago.

"But at that stage there was no projected growth in Hāwea," the spokesperson says. 

Further work on an updated business case for infrastructure investment at the site is included in the second year of the draft 2024-2027 National Land Transport Plan, which is subject to board approval and funding priorities, the spokesperson says.

If it makes it through this process, no detailed design work will begin prior to 2027, they say.

Discussion on what investment is needed for the bridge also falls within the scope of work underway focusing on the resilience of the highway between Haast and Hāwea, they say.

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