Otaki’s Riverbank Road concrete plant has a new lease of life. All the bridge beams for the $250 million McKays to Peka Peka expressway (M2PP) will be made there. This is an injection of capital into our local economy as Higgins makes Otaki its home base during the construction of the expressway. New investment of $1m coming to Otaki with a new concrete machine, computer driven and fully automated making 15 truckloads of concrete an hour is very good news.
For Otaki this means long term work opportunities for 35 to 40 people and four new jobs have already been created for locals. The current work, clearing the site and constructing the concrete temporary barriers for the work sites, is already in progress.
The M2PP Alliance has taken a lease on the precast concrete site and is currently clearing “40 years of rubble” from site and strengthening the ground where the goliath gantry cranes will operate. The two gantries running side by side on rail tracks will be 9.9metres high and carry the 50 tonne bridge beams. This strengthening work will cost about $200,000. The budget for all the preparatory work and equipment is $4 million, with the main bridge beam construction work scheduled to begin in November. All up this is a seven figure investment in Otaki and Operations Manager John Stewart believes it opens up business opportunities in Otaki.
“Then it’s all guns blazing for the next 20 months,” precast manager, Jonty Pretorius said.
At a recent media day at the work site, Nathan Guy, Otaki Member of Parliament, newspaper reporters and operations personnel, decked out in steelcap gumboots, hi vis vests, helmets and safety goggles, were taken around the site and plant and shown some of the work already in progress.
“This is big business for Otaki, with job opportunities,” Mr Guy said. “With a potential 40 jobs, and the strategic investment from Higgins (portable concrete plant) and the 18 bridges on the McKays to Peka Peka section, Otaki (new river bridge) not too far away and the replacement Whirikino Bridge (Foxton), and Transmission Gully too, it’s very exciting times for Otaki.”
The group was shown the trial steel reinforcing cages that will be used to mould the bridge beams.
The cages will be dropped into the mould, the concrete poured then left to set. The finished beams will be lifted out by the giant sized cranes, and when the initial 55 beams are completed they will be trucked to Waikanae for the new river bridge. There are 16 road bridges and two pedestrian bridges to complete as well as the concrete barriers for roadside works, bridge barriers, culverts; 60 per cent of all the required concrete work will be made in Otaki. Another initiative is the addition of steel pins to strengthen the cement.
“There are 300 hollow-core beams, each over 20m to be cast for the smaller bridges. These t-shaped beams, for the smaller bridges: with the biggest weighing 85 tonnes, is 39m long and stands 1.8m high. The first of their type ever made in New Zealand” Mr Pretorius said. “Once the main production begins, we will pour one full beam per day!”
Project manager, Alan Orange said they were very excited about what they were about to embark on.
“From an engineering point of view, we’re equally excited with the beams we’ll be producing.”
The M2PP Alliance is a consortium comprising New Zealand Transport Agency, Fletcher, Higgins and Beca, Fletcher’s holds the contract for building the expressway.