Awatere Road Rail Bridge

Last Modified: 10-11-2020 15:20

Historic Awatere road/rail bridge with new road bridge in background
Historic Awatere road/rail bridge with new road bridge in background © Christopher Cookson  License this image

The original Awatere road rail bridge on State Highway One was completed in April 1902 after three years of construction at a cost of 22,500 pounds and was officially opened on 10th October 1902. The bridge was a steel truss design by Peter Seton Hay with a unique feature of an upper rail deck and a lower road deck with wooden decking bolted to the steel structure.

Like many bridges of its era, the Awatere bridge was single lane with vehicles having to wait at the end of the bridge while other vehicles travelling in the opposite direction negotiated the bridge. Due to the steel girders supporting the upper rail deck, visibility was not particularly good, so in later years traffic lights were provided at each end of the bridge to help ensure more reliable traffic flow. In spite of traffic lights, with increasing traffic flows on State Highway One, the Awatere bridge was becoming a major bottleneck, and frequent calls for its replacement were made.

Finally in 2007 a new double lane concrete road bridge was opened alongside the old bridge, which continues to operate as a rail bridge. Calls were made to maintain the road deck for cyclists and pedestrians, however costs of annual engineering inspections were considered unaffordable and the wooden decking was removed. Plans for a walkway and cycleway linking Picton and KaikĊura have revived the prospect of the lower deck of the bridge being restored and opened to pedestrians and cyclists.

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Awatere Road Rail Bridge. (2020) Retrieved November, 29, 2020, from