Makatote Viaduct Refurbishment Project

KiwiRail refurbishing the historic Makatote Viaduct

Work is 50% complete on a project to refurbish the 107-year-old Makatote Viaduct on the North Island Main Trunk railway line near National Park. See a timelapse video of the project work completed up to June 2015:

This challenging project will see sections viaduct progressively shrink-wrapped to protect the pristine surrounding environment while lead-based paint is removed using approximately 200 tonnes of the semi-precious Garnet stone.

The vulnerable Whio, or blue duck, and a healthy number of brown and rainbow trout call the Makatote River below the viaduct home.

Located 12km South of National Park, the distinctive Makatote Viaduct was the last and highest structure constructed on the North Island Main Trunk (NIMT). At 262 metres long and 79 metres high it is the third highest rail bridge in New Zealand and is a category 1 registered heritage structure and part of the NIMT heritage area.

KiwiRail and contractor TBS Farnsworth are working closely with the Department of Conservation, Heritage New Zealand, local councils and local Iwi throughout the project to ensure the unique environment and the historical integrity of the viaduct are preserved through comprehensive protection measures.

Stoat are a known predator of the blue duck and so KiwiRail has sponsored a predator control programme implemented by the Department of Conservation around the Makatote site to improve the breeding outcomes for blue duck.

The project team will work from South to North scaffolding and covering the viaduct in containment wrapping before removing the existing lead-based coating system. Parts of the steel trusses and towers will then be replaced and strengthened before a new oxide-based paint system is applied to the area which is equivalent to approximately ten Olympic sized swimming pools.

The old coating material is contained using a vacuum system and tubes to the ground and is then collected and disposed of at a managed waste site. The entire system is thoroughly checked each day prior to blasting works commencing to ensure there is no effect on the environment.

The project will cost approximately $13m and is expected to be completed in late 2016.

More information about the project can be found here.