Archive for the ‘Ashley-Rakahuri’ Category

The Birds Are Back in the Ashley-Rakahuri

12 September 2016

birdsThis is the time of the year when endangered birds like the wrybill, black-fronted tern and black-billed gulls return to the Ashley-Rakahuri to breed.  Local primary schoolchildren have made their own birds – currently they are on the front lawn of the Council building in Rangiora, but expect the flock to land elsewhere in the district in the coming weeks!

Breeding areas are usually marked, so keep well away, and don’t let dogs off the leash.  The wrybill nests are isolated almost impossible to see, but the terns and gulls nest in colonies.

 

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The New Ashley Bridge is Open!

21 February 2015

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The new bridge over the Ashley-Rakahuri north of #Rangiora is now officially open, although traffic won’t be on it until later next week. An important new connection for #Waimakariri.

Ashley Bridge Opening on Saturday!

18 February 2015

All are welcome to the opening of the bridge on Saturday morning.  The event starts at 11.00am.

Find out more at http://waimakariri.govt.nz/services/roads_transport/ashley-bridge-opening-ceremony.aspx

The new bridge and current bridge side by side.

Ashley Bridge Fully Open

1 July 2013

The Ashley Bridge north of Rangiora is now open to all vehicles and with the normal speed limit of 80km/h.

Until the new bridge is built, the old one will have to be nursed. It is likely that it it will have to be closed more often, i.e. the river will not be as high as in the past before it has to be closed.

Hopefully this won’t happen too often, if at all. We have good reason to believe the new bridge will be open by the end of next year, 2014.

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)

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.

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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.

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.

The Ashley Bridge Looks Interesting from Underneath!

25 October 2012

This photo of the Cones Road Bridge over the Ashley near Rangiora, with a fair bit of water going under it a couple of weeks ago (no, it wasn’t closed!) shows the fix-it job done when it was found that the river was scouring out under the piles. The little bit of weed you can see beside the bridge is caught on one of the piles left from the pre-1910 “cart” bridge.

The New Ashley River-Rakahuri Regional Park is Great!

17 October 2012

Congratulations to ECan and their staff for inaugurating the new Ashley River-Rakahuri Regional Park.

It is early days, but there is now a new mountain-bike track, beyond the Mike Keen Walkway established some years ago by the Ashley-Rakahuri Rivercare Group. The best place to start them both is over the stopbank from the Ashley Picnic Area in Millton Avenue, Rangiora.

The photo shows the first group of “official” cyclists leaving after ECan Commissioner Rex Williams had cut the ribbon.

I have to confess that the picture of me with a bike in today’s Northern Outlook was a bit of a pose – it’s been a couple of years since I actually got on one!

The Ashley Bridge (Cones Road, Rangiora): the Good News and the Maybe Bad News

2 October 2012

 

The Ashley Bridge is 100 years old this year: it was opened by the Governor on the same day as he visited the Rangiora Show.

The photo above shows it under construction, but now, as most of us believe, it has passed its use-by date.  It is too narrow and there is scouring occurring under the piles.

The Waimakariri Council has budgeted for its replacement over the next 2-3 years, with the first year being for design work.  But doing it depends on obtaining NZ Transport Agency (i.e. Government) subsidy, which would be 60% of the cost.

NZTA has approved subsidy for the design work.  That’s the Good News, so that will go ahead over the coming year.

They haven’t, however, promised to fund the building of the bridge.  That will depend on the cost that emerges from the design work, the availability of money and government priorities. St that’s Not Particularly Good News.  We, the community, had wanted greater surety than that.  It’s not a “no”, but it’s not a “yes” either.

But at least we are going to get a start.

Text Alerts on Bridge Closures – Ashley and Old Waimakariri

20 August 2012

If you would like to be on the list to receive text alerts about bridge closures and re-openings, email your name and cellphone number to office@wmk.govt.nz. Please put ‘Bridge Closure Text Alerts’ as the subject of your email.

Note: The text alerts are for both the Ashley and Old Waimakariri Bridges. There isn’t an option to just receive alerts for just one of the bridges.

Update: Ashley Bridge (Cones Rd – Rangiora & Loburn / Ashley)

19 August 2012

We should know early next month whether we will get the Government subsidy for a new bridge. If we get it, the subsidy will be about 60% of the total cost of $10 million plus.

The Council has budgeted for its share of design work in 2012-13, with building starting 2013-14.

The 1953 Ashley Flood at Waikuku

9 April 2012

In January 1953, the Ashley broke out north of Rangiora and headed across country.  Old-timers (defined as people who have lived here a long time and are at least 10 years older than me) often use that as the bench-mark of the Ashley’s capabilities.  I recently came across these photos of my mother’s – at the time she  was a young widow with two small boys in tow.

I was a five-year-old at the time, on holiday in Waikuku (in Pine Avenue on the south side from the Lagoon) from Christchurch. The water headed towards Waikuku and broke the bridge that used to cross the lagoon.  The water filled up the low ground to the south for a considerable distance and was eventually released by bulldozing out the sandhills where the surf club now sits.

Those of us on the south side were trapped, although not in any danger. As a little boy, I found it quite exciting!  I can well remember the churning water heading out to sea once it was released.  I can also remember air-drops of food being made to the store on the other bank – very few helicopters in those days!

Once the water had subsided the men set to work building a footbridge across the remains of the road bridge.  This gave us access to the store.

Eventually those on the south side got their cars out by driving in convoy along the beach to Kairaki.  We were third in line but my mother’s little Austin 7 couldn’t keep up with the first two, so the rest of the convoy had to go out our pace! The photo below shows our arrival at Kairaki.

Ashley Bridge Proposed for Council Programme

31 January 2012

A new Ashley Bridge at Cones Road, Rangiora, is in the Draft Long Term (10 Year) Plan as a proposal to go to the Canterbury Regional Transport Committee and the NZ Transport Agency for inclusion in their programme for the next three years. 

Approval at that level is necessary for the project to gain Government subsidy. If the bridge includes a separate pedestrian lane, the total cost is likely to be in the area of $10.2m, with a bit over $4m being the Waimakariri District’s share.

If we don’t put an application in this year, we will have to wait another three years.  The bridge has a good chance of making the cut, the main question being its width.

The Ashley Bridge: My Position

19 September 2010

Costings have not been fully done, but early indications are that a new bridge serving Ashley, Loburn and Sefton would cost $8m-$11m.  If we were to continue repairing the old bridge it would cost about $2m over 20 years, still have to close it for up to 20 days a year and then need to build a new one.

To me it is a no-brainer.  We all know that the bridge is too narrow and has other deficiencies. The only thing standing in the way of building a new one would be the failure of the NZ Transport Agency to fund its share.

The Ashley Bridge – What’s Happening – and what of the Future?

6 August 2010

The current situation is that when the Ashley is in flood the bridge is at a high risk from a public safety perspective – 5 to 7 of the peirs may need to be strengthened in the short term.  The piles are embedded only 2-3m on average and only 1-2m in the main channel.

Compare these two photos:

The Cones Road bridge over the Ashley - unknown date. (Te Papa)

Note the difference in the bed levels.  Note also that some repair work appears to have been done on the nearest pier in the recent photo.  The pier causing the biggest problem is the second one from the camera.  Daniel Smith contractors are lined up to start work soon.

Even with strengthening, the bridge will have to be closed on occasions – perhaps up to 10 times per year. There may be weight restrictions in the future – at present, the bridge is just OK for Class 1.

The cost of annual maintenance and a programme of pier strengthening may cost something in the order of $2 million over the next 20 years – which may be all the life that is left in the bridge.

We all know that the bridge isn’t wide enough and that the southern approach has poor visibility.

So how much will a new bridge cost if it were to be built in the next two years or so?  A preliminary guesstimate for a standard-width bridge is $6 million to $10 million – with a bit more if a cycle and pedestrian lane (or lanes) is added – and that has to happen.  If the benefit/cost ratio meets NZ Transport Agency requirements, which is likely, that cost would be 59% subsidised by them.

Watch this space!  I emphasise that all of the above figures are ball-park estimates that were reported to the Council this week.

Problem on the Ashley Bridge (Cones Road)

11 June 2010

I was at a meeting that was about to start when a friend (who happens to live in the Waiapara Gorge) came in and said there is a new dip in the Ashley Bridge – the Cones Road one, north of Rangiora.  I rang the Council staff, they went and checked and my friend is right – and, so far, the only motorist to notice. One of the supports near the Rangiora end is settling a bit into the riverbed, mainly on the downstream side.

Staff and consultants are monitoring the bridge.  It is likely that the dip is very recent and while it doesn’t, at this stage, seem that urgent action is required, remedial work is likely to be needed in the future.

This is the Council’s media release.

The Waimakariri District Council yesterday called in consulting engineers to check out the Ashley Bridge following observations of aminor drop in the road surface level.

Consulting engineer Bryan Peters from MWH reported back to the Council yesterday afternoon and confirmed a minor ‘slumping’ of the bridge. This occurrence is typically caused by scouring of the river bed around the piles on which the bridge sits. The phenomenon occurs more particularly following flooding or heavy rain such as has occurred in the District in recent weeks.Mr Peters was confident that safety levels were not significantly compromised by the drop.

Waimakariri District Council Utilities and Roading Manager, Gerard Cleary, says that, following the recommendations of the engineers, safety measures are being put into place which will warn of any further settlement or significant flood flows which could occasion further settlement.

“This bridge was originally built in 1911”, said Mr Cleary, “and is in solid condition for its age. Longer term options and courses of action will be explored once we have received more detailed reports from the engineers”.

 

The Ashley Bridge

28 May 2010

Cones Road Bridge over the Ashley / Rakahuri, north of Rangiora

A friend’s Facebook “wall’ is featuring a bit of conversation on the Ashley Bridge north of Rangiora.  Its width has been a long-standing issue for communities on both sides of the river.  There is not enough space for cyclists – in other words, cars can’t pass them without crossing the centre line, so cyclists cross at their peril.

Some impatient motorists are very unwilling to drive behind cyclists until they get off the bridge.

And then there are pedestrians.

Even for motor traffic, there isn’t much space.  Car drivers can feel intimidated by trucks coming towards them and sometimes trucks have to be very careful passing each other on the bridge.

Another issue is that ECan has long talked about building a new stopbank to the south of the river. Their concern is that the river north of Rangiora is narrower than west or east of the town, which in floods puts pressure on the stopbanks.  If a new southern stopbank were to be build further to the south, and the current one removed, the bridge would not be long enough.  (It is possible that a new stopbank could be a secondary one, in which case the current bank would stay.)

Leaving aside the length question, there are two matters: (1) cyclist and pedestrian safety, which could be improved with a clip-on, and (2) the general width of the bridge.  People also ask about the expected life of the bridge.

The bridge is nearly 100 years old and was designed to be wide enought for two traction engines to pass.  It seems to be structurally sound, so we have to assume that if we wanted it to, it could last for quite along time.

Most of the roading and bridging work carried out by the Council is Government-subsidised through fuel taxes. In Waimakariri, that subsidy is about 50%. Even with those subsidies, roading (including bridges) takes up the biggest chunk of the ratepayer dollar in the Waimakariri District.  To get the subsidy for a specific project, however, depends on the project competing successfully with other projects in the Canterbury Region.

Note that for the old Waimakariri Bridge, the cost of a clip-on would be shared amongst three sources: Government subsidy, Waimakariri District and Christchurch City.

A clip-on for the Ashley is on the Waimakariri District Council programme, but it has lost its Government subsidy.  This is because the current Government, when it came into office, cut the funding for cyclist and pedestrian facilities.  The same thing happened to the proposed Waimakariri Bridge clip-on, which was due to have been done in the next 12 months.

Hint! Hint! For those of you north of the Ashley, you live in the Kaikoura Electorate which is held by National’s Colin King.

That leaves the council with a difficult question: does it fund a clip-on without subsidy, or does it wait for the subsidy to be restored some time in the future?  The cost of a clip-on is significant and to forgo a future subsidy would be a big call.

Building a new bridge would be a major project for a District of this size, and probably would not attract subsidy for quite a few years.

None of this is good news, I’m afraid.

In the meantime, the Council is to investigate the installation of lights which flash when a cyclist is in the bridge.  I presume the cyclist pushes a button as they come on to it and it flashes for a pre-determined length of time. Apparently such a system is in place in Marlborough, so we’ll be looking at the success of that.

Better Beaches – Access to Ours

4 May 2010

For a number of years, probably at least ten, the Waimakariri Council has been trying to find a solution to competing views on access to our beaches.  These include the mouth of the Waimakariri at Kairaki, Pines Beach, Woodend Beach, Waikuku Beach, the estuary and mouth of the Ashley-Rakahuri and Asworths Spit north of the Ashley mouth.  In addition, a swimming beach is proposed for Pegasus.

I don’t regard many of the views I have heard as extreme, but there is a point where compromise becomes unlikely.  Many of those who swim at our beaches or walk along them do not want motor vehicles and/or horses on the beaches.  Horse riders and trainers want to have access, as do whitebaiters with motor vehicles in the season.  Fishers want to be able to take the vehicles out to the Waimakariri mouth.  A lot of people are concerned about the damage motor vehicles do to the dunes and to wildlife and plant life, especially in the Ashley-Rakahuri estuary.  This estuary is of national importance for its birdlife.

Over the last few months, the Council has been trying to bring all the talk to a conclusion with a change to the District Plan and a By-Law.  In a very long session this afternoon, it did just that.

As a result of decisions this afternoon:

  • Motor vehicles are banned in the inter-tidal zone between Woodend Beach and the Ashley mouth, except that in the whitebait season they may access the river mouth through a locked gate (keys will be issued) at Waikuku.  The access of the latter must be along the inter-tidal zone on the seaward side of the spit.
  • Motor vehicles are permitted in the inter-tidal zone from Kairaki to a point 400m south of Woodend Beach.  Their only access is at Kairaki.
  • Motor vehicles are permitted in the inter-tidal zone on Ashworths spit.
  • Horses are permitted in the inter-tidal zone.
  • Further consultation will be undertaken to find a horse-unloading area and an access track for horses at Waikuku.
  • A horse unloading area and access track has been confirmed for Woodend Beach at the southern end of Ferry Road.
  • Tangata whenua access to reserves in their ownership is protected.

Note that motor vehicles are already banned from dunes (except along a marked route at Waikuku in the whitebaiting season) and on the soft-sand areas of the beaches.

I think this is only one stage along the way.  We will hear a lot more community discussion about our beaches for some years to come!

What Are Our Beaches For?

3 March 2010

Currently I am sitting on a hearings panel that has been listening to submisisons on a proposed District Plan Change, By-Law and Management Plan for the Waimakariri District beaches.

Shags at the Ashworths side of the Ashley-Rakahuri mouth

 There are widely divergent views regarding beach access for motor vehicles.  Most seem to agree that the beach is a wonderful place – much of it a wilderness at our back door. Many would like to see no vehicles at all, but others see a legitimate use for people to get to fishing points, etc.  They would probably see the ATV below, used to pull a jet-ski to the beach in an isolated area, as such a use.

 Most, however, have expressed hostility towards the use represented below.  Unfortunately, however, young trail bike riders don’t usually appear before Council hearing panels! Incidentally, the rider in the picture used a route to the beach that is already illegal.

Vulnerability …

20 January 2009

Below is a black-fronted tern nest in the Ashley riverbed.  As you can see, it is a mere scrape on the surface and hard to see.  If the parent stays too long off the nest, the chick inside the egg will either freeze or bake.

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Endangered Gull Species Nesting Successfully in Ashley

18 January 2009

A large colony of black-billed gulls is successfully nesting in the Ashley riverbed.  Nearby, black-fronted terns are also nesting.  These two birds, along with wrybills are the species that the Ashley-Rakahuri Rivercare Group is trying to protect.

So far, only one wrybill chick has been spotted this year.

If you are in the riverbed, please encourage people to stay away from the gull colony – it’s obvious where it is.

Black-billed Gulls and chicks, Ashley River, January 2009

Black-billed Gulls and chicks, Ashley River, January 2009

Swimming in the Ashley This Summer

21 December 2008

ECan has issued a list of likely swimming holes in the Ashley this summer – and how to get to them.

You can find their full media statement by clicking on the page Ashley River / Rakahuri Swimming Holes 2008-09 to the right of your screen.

Please note their warnings about flooding, water quality, nesting birds, etc.

The map of the area is below.

Have a safe holiday season!

ashley-map

Spot the Wrybill Chick! (and its parent)

24 November 2008
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Photo taken by Nick Ledgard, Chair of the Ashley-Rakahuri Rivercare Group about three weeks ago.

Endangered Birds on the Ashley / Rakahuri

12 October 2008

Nick Ledgard, the chair of the Ashley-Rakahuri Rivercare Group, has reported that last year’s wrybill fledging rate was above average, with three chicks making it.  Unfortunately, they all came from the same pair, who managed the feat of double-brooding – two chicks followed by a third later in the season. The other three pairs did not manage to raise chicks successfully.

The lone black stilt was the father of four chicks, but unfortunately he had mated with a pied stilt!

Black-fronted terns were present in reasonable numbers, but the eggs slowly disappeared (black-backed gulls? hawks?) and only 10-15 chicks fledged.

No colonies of black-billed gulls managed to nest.

And now?  Well, the birds are back in the riverbed, so take care when you are down there.  If birds show obvious agitation in your presence, keep moving.  This will allow them to get back on the nest.


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