Kopu Bridge Replacement Work Starts At Last (Photos)


Finally , there are visible signs of a start on the new two-lane Kopu bridge replacing the ridiculously inadequate one-lane bridge near Thames. Work has at last started on the project that should have been done decades ago.

When I showed an Australian friend the Coromandel area a few months ago, I ran out of explanations for how, in 2009 and in a busy tourism area, we had a situation where there was an ancient bridge crossing controlled by lanes or people letting through one lane at a time.  I told him the last Labour government was especially slow to agree to a timetable, possibly because there was a National MP for Coromandel so it didn’t think it would win votes to do anything.

WAITING: Present bridge | NZTA

WAITING: Present bridge | NZTA

But in February, the National Government announced it would fund the immediate construction of the Kopu Bridge Replacement as part of its $500 million Jobs and Growth Plan.

And today, as you can see from the photo, I can spot signs of action already.

The existing 465m long one-lane swing bridge across the Waihou River was built in 1927.An average 7700 vehicles use this section of SH25 each day, but during holiday peaks this number doubles or more, causing endless delays while you await a signal to cross. Many of us know what that is like in the hot Christmas summer sun.
The bridge and approaches will have a design speed of 100k. The bridge will be 12.95m wide with 3.5m wide traffic lanes and 1.2m shoulders.

The main navigational channel at the central span of the new bridge will be 42.8m wide and 6.5m above mean sea level, providing sufficient height for large river boats to pass under it.

How new Kopu bridge will look | NZTA

How new Kopu bridge will look | NZTA

A combined pedestrian/cycle lane will be constructed on the north side of the bridge, and will be separated from the traffic lanes by a concrete barrier with urban design features.

Present bridge | NZTA

Present bridge | NZTA

Engineers are confident it will be able to cope with the worst floods that can occur once in 100 years.
Besides the new 580m long two-lane bridge, there will be a new four-leg roundabout at the junction of SH25 and SH26 and about 2.5km of associated approach roads, including a new link road to SH26 east of the bridge.

Crossing the present bridge

Crossing the present bridge

And the old bridge will remain. The existing bridge is classified as a Category 1 historic structure by the Historic Places Trust. The NZTA will decide how the existing bridge is to be used and maintained following community consultation. The bridge swing span will be opened from time to time to provide access for large river craft.

The NZTA is also investigating options for replacing the nearby Kirikiri Stream Bridge on SH26.

Related Posts

  1. New Mangere Bridge Sections Get Joined Tonight
  2. Newmarket Progressing: Major Second Track Work Starts in A Month (Photos)
  3. Work At Top of Sandringham Rd Bridge Continues (Photos)
  4. Bridge Only Has 20 Years Left, NZTA Moves For Harbour Tunnel
  5. Work Starts At Penrose For New Onehunga Rail Service




  1. Jeremy Harris says:

    What is the cost..?

  2. Luke says:

    I disagree that this should have been done decades ago. As far as I know the bridge is only really a problem for about a week a year. Therefore very hard to justify spending $40 million on this. Especially when it is only holiday traffic, so there is negligible economic benefit, and the time savings benefits are almost entirely false for this project. Any idea what the BCR is?

  3. Jon C says:

    It’s not one week a year. I have been there numerous times even outside Christmas times and had to wait a long time to get through - 40 minutes to an hour. The annual average daily traffic (AADT) crossing the Kopu Bridge is 9,000 vehicles per day. During peak holiday periods this rises to 1,100 vehicles per hour.

  4. Matt says:

    If I remember correctly one of the things that held this up for so long was the current bridge is maintained by NZTA and after the new one is completed it would fall to the local council who didn’t want to pay so they stopped it. They also couldn’t demolish the existing bridge as it is a protected hertiage structure

  5. bob says:

    I’m with Luke on this - this is a mindless donkey of a project. I note your NZTA photo of the ‘queue’ shows …. a whole 3 vehicles!

    The 9,000 vpd is tiny compared to many roads & intersections in Auckland. And I travel to Thames regularly, and hardly ever find it a big queue - that really only happens a couple of hours a year when every halfwit commutes on Boxing Day from Auckland to Coromandel, then back on the last day before work.

    The reality is this project was pushed by the Auckland chattering classes, who launch their SUV across the Kope bridge in above-mentioned Xmas surge, then sit at bach whinging about endless Kopu bridge queues as it’s the only thing they can think of to talk to extended family about… sigh ;(

    I too ask what the BCR was - I understood the delays was NZTA couldn’t fudge the figures to make the BCR work!

  6. Ingolfson says:

    Actually, there are other arguments for rebuilding it - one being that it is awfully shoddy, and will fall down in an earthquake of the severity that occurs once every 300 years there. Standards now require a stability of 1:2500 years. Especially as this bridge has few alternatives for a long distance around.

    I don’t think we should oppose such projects. It’s not like the money could have been spent on a new busway from Thames to Coromandel Town instead!

  7. Aaron says:

    All you people that don’t think this project has any viability should think again. Have you thought about emergency vehicles needing to cross from either side in peak traffic? Every minute counts in an emergency and if they get held up for even a minute it can cost a life. I have travelled to the Coromandel many times, day and night and most cases i’ve been lucky not to be caught up in traffic jams. If people did their homework and looked at other alternatives to the bridge in peak traffic they would find taking the extra distance to Paeroa and going around the back would still be alot quicker. Lets move forward and get the country moving rather than blaming a particular council or previous goverment for not getting this project started sooner. By the way i support National 100%.

  8. James says:

    I fail to see how this will help the Christmas traffic problem at all.
    Sure we’ll all be able to get over the river without waiting for lights or the “stop/go” man but that four arm round-about will cause just as many problems.
    Before Christmas all traffic turning right for Whangamata will have right of way over anyone wanting to get out of Thames and after New Years all traffic coming out of Thames will have right of way over the Whangamata traffic so the bottleneck will remain.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>