Award-Winning Bridge Solution for Urban Ecosanctuary
Kopurererua Valley Reserve in Tauranga is one of the largest urban wetland regenerations in Australasia. This inner-city jewel covers 364ha, but over the past century the natural course of the Kopurererua River was altered and much of the wetland was drained. For 25 years, discussions have been underway on how this area could be restored.
Work finally began in early 2022 to enhance this recreational and ecological habitat by realigning the river to its natural course, recreating the extensive wetland, and installing new cycle tracks and walkways. Bridge It NZ was engaged by the project’s main contractor, GT Civil, to provide the foundations and superstructures for two pedestrian footbridges measuring 21.5m and 18.5m in length.
Despite the difference in size, the spacings between each truss were designed to be the same to help reduce construction costs. This also ensured both bridges look identical, as they sit only 200m apart. Bridge It NZ kept the bridge deck as low as possible, enabling the ability to withstand a 1 in 100-year flood, and delivering a cost-effective solution for ratepayers.
IInstallation of the bridges in February 2023 has connected cycleways across the Kopurererua River, bringing this new commuter corridor to life and opening up access to this ecosanctuary in the heart of Tauranga city.
Bridge It NZ are proud to be involved in such a significant project for the Tauranga community. Their expertise in manufacturing and installing these bridges saw them win the CCNZ BOP Construction Awards 2023 category 1A for projects under $1m.
Planning & Problem Solving
Different engineers were responsible for designing different aspects of the bridges foundations (Tonkin + Taylor) and the superstructure (Tiaki Engineering). A considerable amount of planning was done by Bridge It NZ to bring these two companies together and deliver a final solution that was spot on. This required excellent communication, negotiation, and problem-solving skills.
Bridge It NZ worked closely with Tiaki Engineering to plan bridges that were high enough to rise above the flood zone but also cost-efficient for the span and loading required. They opted for steel pony trusses, timber handrails and timber decks to fit in with the valley’s surroundings. The durable steel truss was sprayed with an additional aesthetic epoxy coat to help withstand the harsh saltwater environment.
Ground conditions were soft, and the valley is prone to flooding. Bridge It NZ worked with Tonkin + Taylor and Tiaki Engineering to mitigate both risks during the design phase. A significant amount of fill was brought in to pre-load the site for 12 months before the foundations were constructed to ensure the ground was as compact and stable as possible.
When the valley’s overall civil works were delayed (meaning the bridges could not be installed in November 2022 as originally planned), Bridge It NZ quickly organised storage on site for the pre-constructed bridges before they were given the green light to crane them onto the abutments three months later.
Installing a bridge is a complex task, although, with the knowledge of hundreds of previous installs to draw upon, Bridge It NZ made light work of it, completing the task in just a matter of hours. This efficiency was achieved through excellent pre-planning and technical expertise, not to mention good communication with all parties involved.
Thrive Spaces & Places (a subcontractor to Tauranga City Council) oversaw the valley’s restoration and Bridge It NZ formed a close relationship with them. They regularly welcomed visitors into their Mount Maunganui factory and arranged site visits of their previous projects to help build trust in their expertise and forge a strong working relationship.
“Bridge It NZ are easy to work with because they’re experts,” says Thrive Spaces & Places Co-Director Geoff Canham. “This was not your typical construction gig. This was a collaborative project and Bridge It NZ were really comfortable presenting in a public meeting at a marae, in a big council meeting, or in a town hall meeting. They’re really good at working with the community.
“It can be challenging as everyone’s got ideas and a vision of how a bridge might work, right down to the color it has to be. Bridge It NZ were really at ease showing us all their options. We just kept throwing problems at them and they just kept coming back with solutions.”
Geoff says the finished bridges embody recreation, environmental and cultural values. “The best part of working with Bridge It NZ is they make everything straightforward.”
Bridge It NZ offers fixed prices to their clients to guarantee peace of mind. Few companies can build steel bridges as cost-effectively as they do and they pride themselves on providing great value for money.
The company is also at ease working as a subcontractor to bigger civil engineering companies, as was the case on this project. GT Civil was the main contractor, and spokesman Steve Papa says building bridges can be high risk if they’re not delivered properly.
“Knowing we’ve got the right people on the job makes our job a lot easier. We chose Bridge It because they are a trusted partner. Bridge It NZ is really well known; they’ve got a really good reputation for being a safe, trustworthy company that we know can deliver. They’re responsive and very adaptable too.”
Given the large number of stakeholders involved in the valley’s restoration, GT Civil’s faith in subcontracting this job out speaks volumes about Bridge It NZ’s capabilities and the trust others have in them to get the job done.
Bridget It NZ’s purpose is to unlock the potential of the land. This project is a perfect example of that. These bridges now connect vital pathways and cycle routes, creating a green commuter corridor for people of all ages to enjoy and opens up the entire Kopurererua Valley for the community to use at their leisure.
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