Date: 16 May 2010
Major restoration work has began to remove rust and restore the historic Tutoko Suspension Bridge to its original condition.
Built in 1940 to cross the Tutoko River, the bridge completed the road into Milford Sound. In 1981, a single lane metal road bridge, equipped to cope with the increase in traffic, replaced the bridge. The Tutoko Suspension Bridge was left open for pedestrians and sits along side the modern bridge. It has proven to be a popular stopping point for tour groups and individuals.
DOC Historic Assets Manager, Ken Bradley, said the restoration project could take up to 12 months and the bridge would remain closed to the public during this time.
"The last major works to this structure were undertaken in 1965" Mr Bradley said. "The deck needs to be completely removed, support steel girders inspected, cleaned, painted and the deck replaced."
Because of its climate and topography, New Zealand has more bridges, on a population basis, than any other country in the world.
Tutoko Suspension Bridge
- Bridges of many styles and designs were built for railway, road, horse and foot traffic. Today New Zealanders take most of these bridges for granted. However when a pioneer bridge opened it was often a cause for a district celebration because locals had been living with the brutal realities of life without it.
- Because we had so many bridges to build and were not a prosperous country, many cost saving approaches were necessary; wooden bridges, suspension bridges, single lane bridges and combined road/rail bridges.
- In time many of the pioneer bridges have been replaced making early cost-saving designs just history. The Department of Conservation is a major manager of bridge heritage which includes a representation collection of pioneering bridges. The Tutoko Suspension Bridge is one of these.
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