Motorists travelling over the single-lane Kopu Bridge this Saturday can expect traffic delays - but they are likely to be the last at this traffic bottleneck.
An official opening of the new two-lane bridge will take place on Saturday morning and the public are invited to walk the bridge before it is opened to traffic some time next week. The Bridge Walkover starts at 10:30 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m.
NZ Transport Agency Project Services Manager Bryce Carter said the Saturday events would generate extra traffic, and some delays were inevitable.
"We have done everything we can to minimise traffic delays. Special parking has been provided on both sides of the bridge, with free buses transporting people on and off the site. We will have personnel on hand to manually control the traffic signals on the old bridge when necessary to clear traffic queues. However, there are still likely to delays at times."
Mr Carter said the Bridge Walk was originally planned to start at 9:00 a.m. but the start time was changed to 10:30 a.m. to allow the official opening ceremony to begin at 10:00 a.m.
Free parking, free buses
On the Coromandel side of the bridge, free parking is available at Rhodes Park - the sports ground south of Thames - with free buses running approximately every 15 minutes to and from the bridge. Shuttles for people with disabilities will also run to and from Rhodes Park.
On the Hauraki Plains side, free farm parking will be signposted, with visitors able to walk or take a shuttle to the bridge. There is no parking on the project site and limited parking in the Kopu industrial area.
Local Lions and Rotary Clubs will organise parking and raise funds for the Life Education Trust and Lions Cancer Lodge. Visitors will be able to buy Bridge Walk certificates and postcards on site, with all funds going to charity.
Entertainment will be provided at the Kopu end of the bridge, and food and drinks can also be purchased there.
While the bridge and approach roads will be open next week, other parts of the project will not be completed until early in the new year.