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Firm Finishes Historic NZ Bridge Repaint

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

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The first full repaint of a New Zealand rail viaduct in over 50 years is nearing completion, three months ahead of schedule.

As the Wanganui Chronicle recently reported, the Makatote Rail Viaduct repaint, a NZ$13 million (about $9.27 million) job, is in its finishing stages, and project managers say it will be complete by the end of October.

The century-old span had its last full repaint in 1959, reports note, and the most recent touch-ups took place in the 1990s, according to contractor TBS Group.

Makatote bridge repainting
Photos: TBS Group

The Makatote makeover included the application of a new red oxide coating system to restore the viaduct’s original appearance.

The schedule was sped up in order to avoid the challenge of working during the rainy season.

Complex Job

The makeover for the viaduct, according to the contractor, involved the design and installation of a complex access and containment system; removal, containment and disposal of the previous, lead-based coating system; replacement of corroded steel components; addition of new steel components to strengthen steel trusses; and the application of a new red oxide coating system to restore the viaduct’s original appearance.

According to a representative of KiwiRail, the national rail business of New Zealand, train traffic continued uninterrupted over the two-year project, even as the complex blasting, containment and disposal process was undertaken, the Chronicle reports. Only temporary speed restrictions were enforced.

According to TBS, the blasting and painting began at the south end of the structure and proceeded toward the north.

Project Challenges

The 262-meter-long (860-foot) viaduct is on the edge of Tongariro National Park, and towers over the Makatote River, which meant special care had to be taken not to disturb certain species living in and around the river, including the whio duck, kiwi, and various types of trout.

Makatote Viaduct under renovation

The job also involved the design and installation of a complex access and containment system.

The viaduct is also a Category 1 Historic Place, a classification for places that are of “special or outstanding historical or cultural significance or value.”

Planning for the repaint involved not only KiwiRail and the contractor, but the Department of Conservation, Heritage NZ (which administers the Historic Places list), local councils and native Maori tribes.

Viaduct History

The Makatote Viaduct, completed in 1908, is a 10-steel-span structure comprising steel plate girders and Pratt trusses. At the time of its construction, it was the tallest viaduct in New Zealand, at 79 meters (about 259 feet). It has since been surpassed by two other structures.

In 2006 and 2007, the viaduct underwent a NZ$4 million ($2.85 million) structural renovation to shore up piers where the Makatote River was eroding the ground. Officials had called the viaduct the highest structural risk in the New Zealand rail network, noting that a major event like an earthquake could have caused the structure to collapse prior to the fix.

The viaduct is part of the North Island Main Trunk, a rail line that carries trains from Auckland to Wellington. Trains that cross the viaduct include the Northern Explorer, a scenic passenger line that spans the entire NIMT. It also carries freight traffic.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Bridges; Coating Application; Corrosion protection; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Environmental Protection; Infrastructure; Latin America; North America; Protective Coatings; Rail

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