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Opening of Kopu bridge is 'best Christmas present'

Published: 6:27AM Monday December 12, 2011 Source: ONE News

The new two-laned Kopu bridge officially opens to traffic today.

The 580 metre-long bridge over the Waihou River has opened six months ahead of schedule and has come in $7 million under budget.

It includes a combined pedestrian and cycle lane on the north side which will be separated from vehicles by a concrete barrier.

The new addition replaces the old single-lane bridge which has been a holiday bottleneck, causing long delays for motorists heading to the Coromandel over summer.

The bridge will also provide a link to a new route for State Highway 25, that will bypass the Kopu township.

Owner of the Kopu Station Hotel, Paul Ferguson, says despite that, the new bridge may actually increase the number of people passing through.

He says a lot of people may not have travelled on this route previously because of the traffic problems, but hopefully that will change now.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce says the $47 million project has created about 50 local jobs, as well as work for local companies involved in supplying materials and providing supporting services.

He said the new bridge will come as a huge relief to people reliant on it, especially during the peak holiday period when queues of up to 10 kilometres long are legendary.

The Coromandel is a fast growing visitor destinations, with 2.5 million visitors expected in 2011, and traffic volumes expected to continue to rise year-on-year.

But Joyce said the bridge will also create a viable transport link for the community and local economy.

As well as the bridge, the project includes a new four-leg, two-lane roundabout at the junction of SH25 and SH26, and 2.5km of associated approach roads, including a new link road to SH26 east of the bridge.

Thames Mayor Glenn Leach says it is the best Christmas present for Thames and is the largest addition to the town in 15 years.