Hollywood opening in Tairāwhiti

Tuesday 3 October, 2023

The new Hollywood Bridge that’ll connect residents at the start of Bushy Knoll was officially opened by Mayor Rehette Stoltz yesterday afternoon.

The wide single-lane Bailey bridge spans the Hangaroa River and replaces the old Hollywood Bridge.

It’s reconnected a community who’ve had intermittent access since February.

The original 1957 Hollywood Bridge was lost during Cyclone Gabrielle when the Hangaroa River became a raging torrent of water, which scoured under the foundations of the bridge and caused it to collapse.

Now in its place is the longest three-span Bailey bridge ever completed in New Zealand by bridge engineering company Mabey – it’s 71m long, weighs 124 tonnes, and has more than 5000 parts.

The bridge superstructure was officially opened by the Mayor, alongside Council representatives, contractors and most importantly – the 16 residents for whom this bridge will make the biggest difference to their lives.

Mayor Stoltz says connecting communities has always been a priority after so many residents were cut off when eight bridges were lost during Cyclone Gabrielle.

“It’s such a pleasure to be here today to build bridges, literally and figuratively, in our community. After such a traumatic year every bridge and road re-opening is a step toward recovery and healing.

“I’d like to thank the residents of Bushy Knoll for their resilience and their patience. I’d like to thank the engineers and contractors who have put in the hard yards to reconnect these lifelines in our community.”

Gisborne District Council Principal Capital Advisor Darren Cox says a temporary low-level bridge was installed on 28 March to allow light vehicle access for the residents who were cut off after the cyclone.

“We used a recycled bridge span from a previously decommissioned structure.”

The temporary low-level bridge survived many heavy rain events this year however was prone to being inundated in larger floods.

“It was only ever intended to be temporary until a more secure bridge crossing was able to be installed,” says Mr Cox.

“The failure of the existing bridge in Gabrielle and overtopping of the temporary bridge during the late June heavy rainfall, reinforced the need for a more secure bridge across the river, which needed to be longer, higher and more resilient.

”This Bailey bridge provides secure access in all-weather to 22km of road where there are multiple homes and residents.”

There are also farms, and forestry blocks that use this bridge located 4km along Bushy Knoll Road.

Mr Cox says a Bailey bridge was considered appropriate given its ability to span longer distances and its rapid deployment following site and foundation preparation.

“The Bailey bridge system is a portable, through truss bridge made up of individual steel components that are assembled on-site and can be launched across a river without large construction equipment.”

Mr Cox says contractors, consultants and Council staff have achieved a lot in the months since Cyclone Gabrielle hit Tairāwhiti on 13 and 14 February 2023.

“This opening today of a new Hollywood Bridge is considered a milestone in the long road to recovery.”

Bailey bridge history

The Bailey bridge system was originally developed in 1940/41 by the British for use during Second World War. The bridge chosen for this site is a modern equivalent to the original wartime Bailey bridge, and this was supplied by Mabey Hire NZ, a company of expert engineers who provide bridging solutions.

A three-span configuration was chosen, and the Bailey bridge has an overall length of 71m.  The main span crossing the river is 12.9m (approximately 40 per cent) longer than the original bridge central span and is set approximately 1m higher.

Mr Cox says this was to move piers out of the main channel away from where faster flows and debris are present and increase the freeboard to future floods.

Mr Cox says this Bailey bridge design and construction has been a collaborative effort across many organisations – Gisborne District Council, Waka Kotahi, WSP, Fulton Hogan, Downer, Mabey with subcontractors Lattey Group and IBA Engineering, Ritchie Civil, Earth Works Solutions, Civil Project Solutions, Civil Asist, RoadNoise and C R Taylor Gisborne.

It came in at a cost of $ 3.2 million and was 100 per cent funded by the $68m funding from Waka Kotahi initial cyclone-damaged road network funding.

Below is the original 1957 Hollywood Bridge before Cyclone Gabrielle:

Hollywood Bridge (original) before Cyclone Gabrielle

Below is the aftermath following Cyclone Gabrielle

Hollywood Bridge after Cyclone Gabrielle

The temporary bridge to reconnect locals was opened on 28 March, 2023

Hollywood Bridge temporary Bridge 28 March 2023

However, excess June rain overtopped the temporary  bridge

Hollywood Bridge temp structure overtopped June 2023

Now the Bailey bridge is the new Hollywood Bridge and has reconnected a community.

Hollywood Bridge aerial view new Bailey

The official opening day was attended by around 45 people, Fulton Hogan put on a BBQ and Mayor Rehette Stoltz cut the ribbon before the  local kids ran across their new bridge

Hollywood Bridge opening 2 Oct 2023

Hollywood Bridge opening day with kids