Living Heritage - Tikanga Tuku Iho

Opiki Toll Bridge

A History






The End


Living Heritage


The End

At last in 1960, after years of waiting, there were signs of plans for a two-way bridge at Opiki. In August a meeting was held in Palmerston North. It became clear that, following the planned construction of stop-banks (to be built in 1962), the toll bridge could be submerged, and maybe swept away, in times of flooding.

The National Roads Board finally gave their approval in July 1965 for the building of a two-way concrete bridge to replace the toll bridge. In the winter of 1968, the locals were overjoyed to see signs of construction of the new bridge.

The new concrete bridge was completed in November 1969 at a cost of $165,000. It stood 42 feet above normal water level, was 454 feet in length, its deck was 57 feet wide, and it rested on 6 x 64 foot spans supported by cylindrical piers buried 70 feet into the riverbed.

Construction of the new bridge
An aerial photo, taken in September 1969, showing the construction of the new bridge nearly

November 22nd 1969 was a great day of celebration the opening ceremony for the grand new two-way public bridge, and also the closing ceremony for the toll bridge. The old bridge was decked out with all sorts of flags for the closing ceremony. The locals gave thanks to the owners of the 'old faithful' bridge for 44 years of unfailing service. In the 52 years of the bridge's existance, only one cable had broken. This happened on a windy day in 1962, but the bridge was closed only two hours for repairs the only time it was closed in its life apart from floods. After its final closure for safety reasons, all the decking planks were removed. These final days of the bridge's life marked what many called "the end of an era".

The old bridge on closing day
The old Opiki toll/swing bridge decked out with
flags on the day of the closing ceremony (22 November 1969).

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Last update: Monday, September 15, 2003 at 3:06:42 PM.