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QRS wins construction award for ingenious Te Reinga Bridge work

Te Reinga Bridge pools canva

Quality Roading and Services (QRS) has earned industry acclaim for an ingenious bridge repair that involved a dinghy and two second-hand swimming pools.

The Wairoa civil contracting company won a Civil Construction New Zealand Hawke’s Bay East Coast Award for its efforts to brace and reopen Te Reinga Bridge in May this year.

The award recognises the passion of QRS staff to re-open the bridge for locals, cooperation between contractors, and Kiwi ingenuity.

Te Reinga Bridge is 35km from Wairoa. It’s the crucial main link to Wairoa and Gisborne for people living in the Ruakituri area.

In March this year, the bridge suffered severe damage after heavy rains and flooding. Two piers subsided and the bridge deck bowed. The bridge was closed which had social, educational, and financial impacts on the Te Reinga, Ruakituri and Tiniroto communities. Families had to drive a 90-minute alternative route just to travel what would otherwise normally be a few hundred metres.

Wairoa District Council (WDC) created a three-pronged solution for the contract: repair the existing bridge, restore pedestrian access, and potentially reopen the bridge to light vehicles.

While QRS’s Routine Division made sure the Ohuka Rd detour stayed open, the company’s Capital Division took on the lead contractor role and worked alongside WDC, WSP, Fulton Hogan, and Lattey Group to open the bridge to light traffic as soon as practically possible.

QRS is a Council-controlled Trading Organisation. Wairoa District Council mayor Craig Little congratulated the team for its innovative repair work. “This project demonstrated the merits of having a locally-based contracting company with the capability that QRS has.”

Mr Little says the emergency repair response demonstrates the outcomes possible when Council builds and maintains strong relationships with QRS and other contracting companies. Council’s roading engineering team had a huge amount of work to deal with over the March rain events. Access was the priority. Reopening the Te Reinga Bridge to light traffic in seven weeks, instead of the expected 13 weeks, is evidence of the reliable and passionate people we have in our district.

QRS chief executive Jeremy Harker says the Te Reinga Bridge project is an example of the length local staff will go to for residents. “The response in April and May was driven by good old fashioned neighbourhood enthusiasm. Everyone on the wider team knew someone affected by the bridge closure and wanted to be part of a safe and fast solution.”

The CCNZ award for projects less than $200,000 was presented to QRS staff at a CCNZ ceremony in Hastings on Friday [25 November]. It’s the second time in two years QRS has won a CCNZ accolade. In 2021 the company received a construction award for a large sea wall it built in order to secure a cliff face on Mahia East Coast Rd.


Extra information

How was it done?

Initially, the bridge piers were restrained by two 40-tonne bulldozers while a semi-permanent solution was designed.

The semi-permanent solution involved installing reinforcing bars under the bridge deck. A crane was used to lift in the steel brackets that the bars were attached to. Staff stood on an elevated work platform while they drilled and installed the bars. Prior to the installation of emergency scaffolding, staff wore life jackets when working on or above the water. Some work was carried out by staff in an inflatable dinghy.

After the reinforcing work, the bridge was then load tested to see if it could support the weight of light vehicles. QRS sourced two second-hand swimming pools from Trade Me and set them up on the bridge deck. The pools were incrementally filled with water to see if the bridge could hold the engineers’ recommended weight.  

During the test, water was pumped from trucks parked off the bridge. Pump flow rates were regulated so that 1000 litres (1 tonne) could be added at a time. After engineers verified data received from sensors the Te Reinga Bridge was opened to light traffic in May. 

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Pier subsidence caused the Te Reinga Bridge deck to bow. The damage was first noticed by keen-eyed locals who immediately reported it to Wairoa District Council. Image by Brennan Thomas, Strike Photography. 

6 December 2022

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