Awatere Road Rail Bridge 1902 to 2007
For over 100 years the bridge at Seddon over the Awatere River has carried road and rail traffic, a unique link on State Highway One. This all changed in October 2007 when the new road bridge opened.
The original bridge was completed in April 1902 and officially opened on the 10th of October 1902. It was the cause for major celebration. The day was declared a public holiday in Blenheim and 1500 people travelled free to Seddon for the opening. The opening ceremony was carried out by Sir Joseph Ward, Acting Premier and Minister of Railways. The town of Starborough was renamed Seddon at this ceremony.
The bridge was designed by Peter Seton Hay and built by the contractors Messrs Scott Bros of Christchurch for £22,500. The addition of the wind barrier increased the price by a further £1,118. Building began in April 1899, taking three years to complete. The bridge had the unique feature of an upper rail deck and a lower road deck with wooden decking bolted to the steel structure. It was single lane with vehicles having to wait at the end of the bridge while other vehicles travelling in the opposite direction negotiated the bridge.
The 2007 road bridge, costing around $15,000,000 took HEB Smithbridge less than two years (including the approach roads).
Trains continue to rumble over the rail bridge, but the frustrating wait for road traffic is a thing of the past. Trucks no longer need to worry about being wedged on a bridge that was designed for traffic of the early 1900’s and car occupants will not be shaken to bits on the wooden decking.
Updated: March 31, 2020
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Further sources - Awatere Road Rail Bridge 1902 to 2007
- The Cyclopedia of New Zealand: volume 5. Nelson, Marlborough and Westland provincial districts (1906) Christchurch, N.Z. : Cyclopedia Company, Ltd.
- Kennington, A.L. (1978) The Awatere: a district and its people. Blenheim, N.Z. : Marlborough County Council
- McIntosh, A.D. (Ed.)(1940) Marlborough: a provincial history. Blenheim, N.Z. : Marlborough Provincial Historical Committee
Awatere Bridge (1902, October 11) Marlborough Press, p.1
- Hanson, R (2016, June 7) Awatere River bridge brought nose bleeds, black outs and risk of 'the bends'. Marlborough Express on Stuff:
- New bridge over the Awatere River (2007) Contractor, 31 (9)
- Transport-Rail-Seddon, Research boxes, Marlborough Museum Archives, 1959-
- Awatere Road Rail Bridge 1902 to 2007 [exhibition]. Retrieved 10 November, 2008 from Marlborough Museum:
- Awatere Road Rail Bridge. Retrieved from Marlborough Online 14 April 2020