By the 1960's traffic problems emerged in Timaru and several firms were consulted. Putting aside the plan for an eastern bypass, a two-pronged approach was developed for the CBD. This involved relocating State Highway 1 out of the centre of town, together with a one-way arrangement for Stafford Street. This latter proposal was clumsy and was eventually abandoned; however SH 1 was relocated as planned to its present location.
There remained the problem of connecting heavy traffic with the port, and after much debate the Port Loop Road was the selected outcome. This necessitated an overhead bridge linking Sefton Street with the proposed loop.
The design of the Port Loop Road was handed to a private consultancy in Dunedin headed by Eoin Garden, rather than the normal engagement of the Ministry of Works for roading projects.
This innovative structure has flexible joints to allow for thermal and seismic movement, with modified rubber gaskets clearly visible in many locations. The whole structure is anchored by steel tendons cemented underground at the Hydro Grand corner.
The massive concrete spans to form the bridge were poured below and hoisted in to place by elaborate lifting rigs as shown in this photo (courtesy of the South Canterbury Museum 2014/136). Pairs of hefty panels are laid side by side with a central joint, forming almost a four lane road.
The Port Loop Road was opened by Timaru's staunch MP Sir Basil Arthur in 1972.
Fears over the visual impact of the Port Loop Road upon the recreational areas of the Bay reserve have been softened by quite intensive planting together with the grassy banks.
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