Archive for June, 2013

Ashley Bridge at Rangiora Re-Opened for Light Traffic

29 June 2013

130628 Ashley Bridge Under Repair 4 (500x333)The Ashley Bridge at Cones Road between Rangiora and Ashley has been reopened to traffic today. In the meantime, it is restricted to light vehicles (i.e. under 2 tonnes) and there is a temporary 30km/h speed limit in place.

We all need to pay tribute to Taggarts for their work in the riverbed and Daniel Smith contractors for the construction of a support to replace the missing pier – and for the speed in which they did it.

Public Meetings to be Held on Ashley Bridge

27 June 2013

Actually, not on the bridge. About it!

We were planning these before the NZTA decision on funding, but they will give an opportunity for people to find out more and to ask questions.

WDC08494_Cones Rd Bridge Ad

 

NZTA Approves Funding for New Ashley Bridge at Rangiora

26 June 2013

The heading says it all.

This afternoon the Council was informed that the NZ Transport Agency had approved funding for a new bridge over the Ashley.

It will now be full speed ahead completing the design work and getting a contractor to build it. Once actual work starts, the estimate is that it will take about 12 months to build.

Work will continue repairing the current bridge, of course

.Ashley Cart Bridge Opening 1902 (1)

TC3 Land Still in Limbo

24 June 2013

There isn’t a huge amount of “TC3” land in Waimakariri, but for Kaiapoi, a significant amount. Technical Category 3 is its full name. It’s land that needs to have a geotechnical report and a specifically-engineered foundation for any new house built on it.

The Waimakariri District’s TC3 land is all in Kaiapoi, mostly between the NE red zone and Beach Road, with some to the west of the town centre close to the railway line.

We held a meeting for the property owners last week at Kaiapoi High School. It was clear that life remains very difficult and they are feeling that not much has happened. They haven’t had a full report on their land as yet, although the drilling has been done. On top of that, the engineers are still trying to ascertain what is the best way to remediate such land where there is an existing house that doesn’t have to be demolished.

Kaiapoi and Waimakariri are a long way from being over the earthquake.

A Letter About the Ashley Bridge and My Reply

22 June 2013

Dear David,

After the disaster of the first day when the bridge closed, traffic levels have eased off somewhat, meaning that my trip to school does not take so long. This has been helped by (a) presence of Mr. Plod and (b) people now knowing distances and times to get to work (c) lots choosing not to go to work today!
 
However, my concerns about the Cones Road bridge have not abated. Council has known for years that the bridge was at the end of its life span. I find it hard to believe that they sat around waiting for government subsidies to kick in!
 
Around 1990/91 it appears that the ‘state highway’ appellation was removed and re-designated ‘scenic highway.’ Did that affect subsidies? Is this why nothing happened for so long?
 
I have written to my local MP about this issue. I know that nothing will happen (National MP) but it made me feel better. Is there anything that we can do as a group on the north side of the Ashley river to keep this issue in the public eye? Or is the council pressuring the Transit Authority anyway?
 
Realistically speaking I am less inconvenienced than some of my fellow rural residents, but some of my colleagues are facing long commutes to work; this is in addition to their farming duties. Very stressful for them at this time of the year.
 
You say that the bridge qualifies for a 60% subsidy; when, realistically, could that money be apportioned? What is wrong with having a Bailey’s bridge until that bridge is built? Why spend more money on the present bridge? At what point does it become uneconomic to repair? I have lots more questions. I had better stop. Will there be any public meetings to clarify things with ratepayers?
 
Regards,
…………
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
 Hi ……..Thanks for your email.

Yes, you are probably right about the traffic. I sat in my car at the Wyllies Road / Main North Road corner yesterday morning (Friday) to monitor the traffic. I arrived about 3 minutes to 7.00 and left just after 8.30. For almost all of that time the queue varied between 0 and 4, but there were 2 or 3 periods of heavier traffic. The longest queues occurred for 5-10 minutes around 8.15 when they got up to 20-25 vehicles at times. I timed one obvious vehicle as it joined the queue in the distance and it took almost exactly 2 minutes for it to get on to the Main North Road. The other busier periods saw the queue get up to about 12, and these cleared quickly – seconds rather than minutes. The police weren’t there.

However, it was probably not all that typical a day and I agree that quite a few would have stayed home if they were able to. This meant that there were almost certainly fewer coming from Sefton as well as more gaps on the Main North Road.

The Council in my time, which relative to the bridge is since 1986 (the Borough Council was not involved with it) has sought engineering reports on the structure from time to time. The answer that always came back was at least 10 years. This did not mean that in the engineers’ view that it had only had 10 years left or that they they kept changing their minds, its just that the engineers were merely projecting as far as they were prepared to go. It was another way of saying that they found nothing structurally unsound. “Useful life” is a strange concept – the useful life of a house is assessed at 50 years, but we all know there are hundreds of thousands of them older than that and going well.

Probably the main issue that the community and the Council was concerned about was the narrowness and the consequent lack of safety, particularly for cyclists. It was also well known that some pedestrians were walking across the railway bridge and that trucks sometimes stopped to let an oncoming truck through.

The Council received a lot of requests for a pedestrian/cycle clip-on and application had been put in to NZTA for subsidy. It was on their list, but hadn’t got far enough up it. In the event it became unlikely because the new National-led overnment changed its priorities away from pedestrian and cycle facilities and towards roads, particularly major motorway projects, mostly in the North Island. This has also meant that the clip-on on the old Waimakariri bridge, which is supported by both us and Christchurch (it’s on our boundary) is going nowhere. It is also on the regional NZTA list of priorities but is unlikely to gain subsidy unless there is a change of government priorities.

An important change came in 2010 when it was discovered that the river was scouring under one of the piers. The bridge had to be jacked up and the temporary steel support put in place. The other piers were also checked, of course, and it was confirmed that other piers were in place but vulnerable. Note that this is not a problem with the structure per se – it’s with the riverbed and the depth of the piers. Old photos show that the riverbed was much higher when the bridge was built.

None of this was known before 2010. The steps that were taken then were to raise the bridge in NZTA’s priorities. The periodic closures of the bridge in high water helped the case, as did the likelihood that piers would have to be progressively replaced with steel structures. It also helps the case that the detour is long.

I want to emphasise that none of the problem with the depth of the piers and the scouring was known before 2010.

My assumption of what happened on Monday is that the pier was scoured out, and with nothing under it, it simply dropped out. Photos of the bridge under construction show that the steel reinforcing in the top of the piers was designed to hold the deck laterally on to the pier, i.e. to stop it moving sideways. The reinforcing rods are verticle and would not prevent the pier from dropping.

The NZTA programme is a three-year one and we are just entering its second year. The design work that has been approved is under way. We were hacked off that the entire job was not in the programme, but there was a remote hope that the once the design work was done NZTA would have the information they needed and that our project might replace an approved project that wasn’t going to get done.

Once the scouring issue revealed itself, the cycle clip-on project was dropped. We needed a new bridge – now.

So:

  • The problem that is going to get the bridge replaced revealed itself only in 2010.
  • The NZTA programme works in three-year cycles and the latest programme was not approved until 2012 (obviously the previous one was 2009).
  • NZTA say they need more information – the design work, which they are subsidising, will provide that.
  • NZTA’s programmes are heavily driven by government priorities.
  • We are still not guaranteed NZTA subsidy, but it will go the Board in July.

The bridge is the only major project that we have on our books that is not earthquake-related. The Kaiapoi infrastructure rebuild comes mainly out of insurance and government grants. The Kaiapoi Aquatic Centre is largely funded by insurance and grants. We have a grant that will cover about 50% of the Kaiapoi riverbank / wharf etc (a $4m job in total), the rest is from rates. The Kaiapoi Library and Museum, an $11m job, has a an element of insurance in it, but is mostly funded by ratepayers. The Rangiora Town Hall (partly earthquake-related) is totally rates funded, as are Kaiapoi and Rangiora town centres restoration. The latter are not, strictly speaking, earthquake jobs, but are being brought forward to help revitalise the town centres (Kaiapoi has an earthquake element). The Oxford Town Hall will be part strengthening and part rebuild and will cost $2m, all out of rates. Note that we can collect insurance for earthquake damage but not where a building is earthquake-prone.

So, despite the earthquake, we have kept the bridge as a top priority and budgeted for its replacement. However, we really need the $6m or so from the government. I think it is something of an achievement to be able to keep average rates (I stress average) to 5.1% max for the first 3 years and under 4% for the remaining 7 years of the current 10-year plan, given what we are facing. Those percentages include an allowance of about 3% for inflation.

A small point: Cones Road was never State Highway. The original State Highway 72 went from Woodend to Winchester. After it lost its SH status, it was labelled “Route 72” and “Inland Scenic Route”, but this is unofficial and apart from other SHs around Mt Hutt and Geraldine became all local road for the various councils. At some later point it was decided to run the Inland Scenic Route from Rangiora to Amberley, rather than to Woodend – possibly to connect it to Hurunui’s and Kaikoura’s Alpine Pacific Triangle.

You ask how you can help. The voice of the community coming direct from the community can always help. Obviously there are the politicians (the local ones have got the message loud and clear!) such as local MPs on both sides of the river – I get the impression some residents north of the river do not realise they are in the Kaikoura electorate. The Minister of Transport is Gerry Brownlee. The Labour spokesperson is Phil Twiford. I’m not sure about the other parties’ spokespersons. Richard Prosser MP (NZ First) lives in Marshmans Road.

Our next step with NZTA is their July Board meeting. Further information from the design work currently being done, plus the current situation, will be put before that meeting. I don’t know how we will get on, but I would presume they have some emergency funds available. $6m (if that is what it is) is not huge in the national scheme of things, but it means a lot to ratepayers.

With regard to the present bridge, we will have to keep it open until a new one is finished. We could do quite a few repairs like that done in 2010 for way less than the cost of a new bridge, but we wouldn’t want to go there, because, as we all know, the bridge is totally inadequate for modern requirements. The 2010 repair was effected without closing the bridge so I suppose that could happen again over the current months if we encountered more problems. The estimated actual build-time of the new bridge, after preliminary and detailed design work, calling and awarding tenders, etc. is about one year.

Yes, we are considering holding a public meeting or meetings.

I hope this all gives you some background – and thanks for writing to Colin King!

Regards

David

 

The Ashley Bridge at Cones Road, Rangiora – Where to From Here?

20 June 2013

Council Management are in touch with NZTA, who should be considering the bridge next month.

080731-rakahuri-in-flood002

The Ashley in flood, 2008 – taken from the Cones Rd Bridge

In the meantime, design work is continuing and information from that process can be fed into NZTA. They will want to have as clear an idea of costings as possible – and that is dependent on the design adopted. Costs can be influenced by such factors as whether any land needs to be purchased for the approaches and whether the new bridge is built upstream or downstream. The design work, of course, includes the approaches as well as the bridge itself.

The Council has budgeted it’s share – it is in the 2012 Long Term (10 Year) Plan, and re-confirmed in the 2013 Annual Plan finally approved two days ago. It is based on the assumption that design work would be finished this coming financial year (July 2013-June 2014) and that if the bridge was given approval by NZTA that work could start in 2014-15. If NZTA approved earlier funding, the Council is able bring its budget forward.

Big projects like this are funded by loan so that future residents get to help pay for them. This loan has been included in our future debt projections.

images


The current bridge over the Ashley being constructed. The first bridge is on the left.

The current bridge will have to be maintained until a new one is built, and this could mean closures when the water reaches critical depths.

The next few weeks will see work being done to put in temporary support in place of the missing pier.  This will, of course, go much deeper than the current piers.

When this work can start properly depends on the river dropping to a point where it can be diverted to allow machinery into the riverbed to do the diversion and to make the repair.  Diversion will also allow a closer look to be undertaken at the remaining piers to see what has happened to them over the last few days.

We Had Weather Today in Waimakariri

20 June 2013

The weather has continued to give Waimakariri District problems.

Today a Civil Defence Sector Post was set up at Fernside School after the Cust River went over its banks. Fortunately, no houses were affected.  A close watch is also being kept on the Dockey Creek, which flows through Fernside. Late this afternoon, the Dockey was OK.

Water has entered a few houses since Monday, for example in western Kaiapoi.

It snowed in the Oxford area and other higher parts of the District today.

 

A Business Association Going Well: Kaiapoi Promotions

19 June 2013

I went to the Kaiapoi Promotions Association AGM this evening.  The KPA is going well and is making its contribution to the positive feel in the town – which will be even better when it stops raining and we can get the Charles/ Williams corner finished!

Local Business Associations are very important in the District.  They are the voice of our business communities and speaking from a Council perspective, they really do assist us in our decision making. We need to hear the views of that part of our community.

Ashley Bridge Update

19 June 2013
Council News Media Release Today:
Following the flood damage to the Ashley Bridge at Cones Road in Rangiora yesterday in which one its piers was swept away, Waimakariri District Council contractors, Taggart Earthmoving Ltd, are today deploying a bulldozer to the river in an attempt to divert the flow of water so as to allow engineering assessments of the extent of any further damage. Immediately following that, Daniel Smith Ltd will be undertaking repair work on the pier that was washed away in an attempt to return the bridge to useable service as soon as possible.
 
The operation will be subject to weather conditions and river flows. The bridge itself will be closed at least until next week and, dependent on the outcome of the assessments being carried out, more likely for a significantly longer period. How long, at this stage, is unknown.
 
Traffic diversions are in place and the Council has sought the assistance of both the Police and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) in handling the likely volume of traffic diverted onto State Highway 1.

… More on the Ashley Bridge north of Rangiora – a pier has gone.

19 June 2013

Sometime in the middle of yesterday morning, a pier was washed out from the Cones Road Bridge just to the north of Rangiora. Amazingly, the spans held up by the pier have remained in place.

This is tremendously inconvenient and costly to residents on both sides of the river, as the detour via the State Highway 1 bridge is a long one. It is also very difficult to get on to the State Highway at Wyllies Road – and the Toppings Rd-Wyllies Rd route through Sefton is also prone to icing and surface flooding.

This means that the bridge will remain closed until a temporary fix can be put in place. How long it takes to complete this work (a contractor has already been engaged) will depend on water levels dropping and on whether the two adjacent piers are OK. If it snows later this week, the subsequent melt won’t help with water levels.

It must be emphasised that the problem is with the river scouring under the piers, a problem that was identified about three years ago. At that time a temporary arrangement was put in place to replace a pier that had been scoured out. That temporary job, and  the one weare about to do, have to be done because bridges like this take years to design and build, not months.

The bridge has been closed on occasions since (including on Monday) because of the likelihood of what has happened would happen.

Since then, the Council has been trying very hard to get subsidy from NZTA – see yesterday’s post ….!  Hopefully, today’s event will help concentrate some minds in Wellington.

Ashley Bridge (Rangiora) Closure Today ….

17 June 2013

Today’s Ashley Bridge closure is going to be inconvenient for a lot of people, particularly those north of Rangiora in Loburn, Ashley, etc.

It is caused by the risk to the piles from a higher river level – and we all know we have had a lot of rain in the last day or so.

Design work on a new bridge has started, although the New Zealand Transport Agency has yet to approve funding for the bridge itself.  About 60% of the funding for both the design work and building of the bridge needs to come from NZTA – for a $9m job on current estimates.

People detouring through the Sefton area today will need to watch out for surface flooding there.

Civil Defence Snowstorm Workshops Coming

5 June 2013

This coming Saturday, 8 June 2013, two workshops will be held in the Waimakariri District as part of Exercise Pandora, an annual Civil Defence Exercise which this year simulates a major snowstorm. One workshop will be held at Ant Dale’s  beef and lamb farm at 211 Ashley Gorge Road from 10.00am to 1.00pm and the other at Geoff Sparks’ dairy farm 1018 Harewood Road (Fonterra Marker 37738) from 1.00pm to 3.oopm.

130608 Exercise Pandora


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