NZ Army assist on longest Bailey bridge build since WWII

The New Zealand Defence Force will help rebuild South Westland’s Waiho Bridge, which was washed away by floodwater caused by heavy rain last week.

FILE PHOTO (2017): New Zealand Army engineers build a Bailey bridge during a bridge-building competition at Linton Military Camp in November 2017. NZDF file photo.

Lieutenant Colonel Terry McDonald, the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Engineer Regiment, said 18 personnel from the 2nd Engineer Regiment would be working with the New Zealand Transport Agency and engineering and construction company Downer New Zealand to replace the bridge.

The New Zealand Army engineers would be deployed for the duration of the project, Lieutenant Colonel McDonald said.

“It is great to contribute our professional expertise to support government agencies responding to communities that need our assistance.”

The Transport Agency’s contracted Bailey bridge installation expert Downer requested the NZDF’s support for the reconstruction of the seven-span Bailey bridge that crosses Waiho River.

A Bailey bridge is a type of portable, pre-fabricated truss bridge developed by the British for military use during the Second World War.

Once completed, the new 170-metre Waiho Bridge would be one of the longest Bailey bridges Army engineers had been involved in building since the Second World War, Lieutenant Colonel McDonald said.

Transport Agency System Manager Pete Connors said getting the NZDF’s help to assemble the spans on the bridge would ensure it was ready to be launched from the south side of the Waiho River as soon as possible.

“We know how important a link it is in the South Island and for the businesses in South Westland and the Army engineers will play a vital part in the restoration of a key piece of infrastructure.”

Westland authorities said the Waiho Bridge provided vital access to the region and its loss had adversely affected tourism on the West Coast and in South Westland.

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Brian Hartigan

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