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13 August 2018 Chloe Brigden

WSP Opus has been helping shape Gisborne for 148 years and our work on the Motu Bridge continues the tradition of creating what matters for future generations.  

The Motu Bridge has been a gateway to Gisborne since it opened in the 1930s, supporting the local community, tourism, and the movement of goods between Ōpōtiki and Gisborne.  

The replacement of the bridge had been funded by the Crown as part of the former government’s Accelerated Regional Roading Programme.  

Investigations carried out by the NZ Transport Agency identified ongoing resilience issues on the route, highlighted by several slips in the Waioeka Gorge. In the event of a bridge closure the only alternative route added an additional 2.5 hours to the journey.  

This had a negative impact on the movement of freight and the local farming community, which is significant given a high proportion of the vehicles using the bridge are classified as heavy vehicles, including tractors and freight trucks. In addition, minor travel time delays occur when vehicles waited to cross the single lane.  

In 2016 construction began on this important NZ Transport Agency project, which involved replacing the existing bridge with a new two-lane structure and improving the road alignment on the approaches to the bridge. The improvement supported the local economy by making the route more efficient and reliable for both people and freight, assisting with economic growth and productivity.  


WSP Opus has been involved in most aspects of the project, from resource consent compliance through to providing on-site geotechnical and structural design input. Being a remote site, the project required onsite presence and a strong focus on team work. Difficult ground conditions and the natures of the site meant a focus on best practice. We assisted with various client liaison and iwi liaison, working closely with contractors and subcontractors to provide the best product for the NZ Transport Agency.  

For the local team, working on such a significant project that benefits the community and wider region was an exciting prospect. It adds to the body of innovative, high-performing projects WSP Opus has worked on in the region.  

We are also actively involved with the upgrading and management of stormwater and wastewater networks through the Gisborne and Wairoa districts to support the improvement of water quality, surface water management and environmental outcomes.  

WSP Opus is really proud of the outcome of its work with Tairāwhiti Roads, the joint project between the NZ Transport Agency and Gisborne District Council, which includes the Tokomaru Bay Township carpark and playgrounds upgrade and Barkers Hill shared pathway project.

Adam Furniss-Sabin, Lead Site Engineer  

“As a local it’s a pleasure and a privilege to work on projects that positively reshape our community. WSP Opus creates what matters for future generations and the redevelopment of the Motu Bridge not only has immediate efficiency and safety benefits, but will enhance access to Gisborne for many years to come.”