Posts Tagged ‘Roads’

The Latest on Southbrook Road

28 June 2015

Southbrook

The latest on the work going on in Southbrook Road, including some likely dates for future completions, can be found at:

http://www.waimakariri.govt.nz/Libraries/Roading/WDC10608_Southbrook_Rd_Improvements_advert_NO_UPDATE_FA.sflb.ashx

The photo above is not the new supermarket! – but it is a familiar sight.

 

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The New Ashley Bridge is Open!

21 February 2015

image

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.

Kaiapoi Farmers’ Market very Saturday morning, (plus others around the District!) – and the reopening of a roundabout!

31 July 2013

130727 Kaiapoi Street Party & Market 1 (400x300)The Kaiapoi Farmers’ Market happens every Saturday morning. Pop in for fresh stuff!

Last week it was part of a street party to celebrate the reopening of the roundabout on the Charles St / Williams St corner. Not a big deal you might have though, but it has actually been part of a very big job. This part of Kaiapoi was badly hit by liquefaction and lateral spread in the earthquakes and so it wasn’t just the road but all the sewers, water mains and stormwater that had to be fixed as well. Fortunately, there was vacant land around it that enabled the traffic to be diverted – but the work was still very disruptive and we appreciate the forbearance of businesses and residents during the construction period.

The photo on the right shows us gathering to do the reopening – all with the traffic flowing around. Jane Seddon and Neill Price of Kaiapoi Promotions did a great job organising the day. Kaiapoi felt good!130727 Kaiapoi Street Party & Market 5 (250x188)

And back to farmers’ markets – remember there are also those at Ohoka on Friday mornings and at Oxford on Sunday mornings.

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.

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

 

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.

Waimakariri Approves Budget for Upgrade of Rangiora’s Red Lion Corner and High Street

24 May 2013

The Waimakariri District Council has approved budget for the major upgrade of the Red Lion Corner and Central High Street.

This has been on the books for three years, before the earthquake, after major community consultation at that time.Red Lion Corner The closure of several premises because of the earthquakes has meant that the programme has been brought forward several years to help in the revitalisation of the town centre.

The problems with the current layout are legion.

  • It is terrible for pedestrians (as is the associated High-Albert Streets corner)
  • The turn from Ivory St east into High St is difficult
  • Driving cross Albert Street from west to east can be perilous
  • Access to the main shopping area from the east is essentially blocked
  • If you want to drive south from High Street you have to first drive north

Really, the only manoeuvres that really work are north-south movement and the left turn past the Red Lion.

The new layout will line up Ivory and Ashley Streets to make a conventional cross-roads controlled by traffic lights.

The Council already owns the the former Westpac building but will need to purchase more property.

Associated with this will be the returning of High Street to two-way traffic with parallel parking. This will oimporve the business environment for retailers at the east end in the area of the BNZ and ANZ banks, make it easier for pedestrians to move around the town and make it possible to come in from the east. At the same time, the Council will be working on improving parking availability in adjacent areas.

Discussions with the RSA about relocation of the Cenotaph will begin soon. The Cenotaph itself is not actually affected, but the new road will pass very close to it.

Assuming property purchase and other issues go reasonably smoothly, wotk could start towards the end of 2014.

Approval of Woodend Eastern Bypass Gives Some Certainty for Woodend and Pegasus

19 February 2013

The approval by the NZ Transport Agency of an eastern bypass brings to an end many years of uncertainty for the Woodend and, more cecently, Pegasus communities.

The shifting of State Highway 1 traffic out of the centre of Woodend, while it is still at least 15 years off, will mean that that the town will no longer be split by heavy traffic, including a lot of trucks, through the middle of the town.

When it happens, the result will be an extension of the Christchurch Northern Motorway north to the Pegasus entrance.

There is still a process to go through with the Council. The designation (which enables NZTA to start buying the needed land) has to be inserted into the District Plan. This isa public process and the ublic have the right to make submissions, which, of course, have to be considered.

Woodend Bypass Image

Map of Proposed Woodend Bypass [NZTA]

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.

Infrastructure Repairs Continue in Kaiapoi

19 October 2012

City Care and Gemmell contractors at work in Charles Street. The whole works are being done: sewer, water mains, stormwater, roads, footpaths. When the Stage One parts of Charles and Davie Streets are finished, the contractors will move into Williams Street north of the bridge.  There is a lot of disruption for locals and traffic, but then, we’ve had an earthquake or two!

Note for Christchurch folk: Waimakariri does not come under SCIRT – we are doing our own thing.

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.

Rangiora Parking Times Shortened

3 April 2012

The Waimakariri Council tonight confirmed a recommendation that came out of the Rangiora Community Board to shorten the time limits in many parts of central Rangiora.

While this will doubtless be unpopular with some people, the aim is to increase the circulation of those parking spaces at a time when a large number of parks have been lost in the CBD.

The Council does not control all the off-street parking in the town.  Council off-street parks are most, but not all, of the area behind the Council building, most of the Blake Street carpark and the area between New World and Ashley Street.  In the carpark between Alfred Street and Countdown Central, only the area behind the fire station is Council-owned.

Waimakariri Gorge Bridge Deck Renewal to Start 29 February

16 February 2012

The long-awaited replacement of the deck on the Waimakariri Gorge bridge is planned to start on 29 February.  Most of the work will be done at night-time, so the bridge will be open during the day. At night, there will be certain times that traffic will be able to pass.  It will be at the same times every night and these will be well-advertised.

This is a joint project of the Waimakariri and Selwyn District Councils.

What’s Happening About the Woodend Bypass?

9 January 2012
What NZTA think the Main North Road / Woodend Road intersection might look like with trafffic lights

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) are still considering the results of the consultation that was carried out last year.  At that point, they asked for comment on three bypass options and three widening options for Main North Road.  I gather their next move will be to come back to the community with a final two design options: one for a bypass and and one for a Main North Road widening.

One issue of concern that emerged from last year’s consultation was concern from Pineacres residents over the size and impact of changes in hteir neighbourhood where a newly-extended Christchurch Northern Motorway (i.e. the Woodend Bypass) would link with the existing Main North Road.

Update on Bridges

8 January 2012

I’m often asked about some of our bridges.

Williams Street Bridge, Kaiapoi

This came out of the earthquakes quite well – it’s the approach on the nothern side that is now rubbish, and getting worse. As for the bridge itself, the Kaiapoi Town Centre Plan proposes that parking be removed and the footpaths made wider to allow people to linger and look up and down the river.  There will be seating on it as well.

Ashley River Bridge at Cones Road, Rangiora

The Council is endeavouring to get a replacement put on to the Canterbury Regional Transport Plan and the chances are very good.  It is intended that this will be wide enough for cyclists and pedestrians to cross it in safety.   The total cost is likely to be in the area of $10m, but it will attract a 60% subsidy from the NZ Transport Agency if the project it approved.

Old Waimakariri Cycle & Pedestrian Clipons

Not much joy here, I’m afraid. The bridge is jointly owned by Waimakariri and Christchurch and neither Council is very keen on doing the work without NZTA subsidy.  To get this will require a change in Government policy direction towards pedestrian and cycle facilities.

Waimakariri Gorge Bridge

This bridge, jointly owned by Waimakariri and Selwyn, is to get a new deck very soon.  Both councils have budgeted for it.  The common claim that the two councils have been arguing over it is urban myth.

The Waimakariri Gorge Bridge with a train about to cross it, ca.1921

More on the Woodend Bypass

20 September 2010

At tonight’s Woodend candidates meeting, the Mayor said that he supported a State Highway Bypass of Woodend.  For the record, this is the crucial motion that the Mayor voted against on 2 September 2008:

That the Council adopts the modified Short Eastern bypass alignment as generally indicated by the Transit NZ consultation process as its preferred option, subject to NZTA acknowledging that the existing designation on the current alignment will not be used for four laning of the state highway and subject to a route being adopted that, (i) avoids New Zealand Historic Places Trust registered buildings and sites, and (ii) minimises the destruction of existing houses.

If this motion had not passed, it would have meant that the Council would have been tacitly supporting the four-laning of the Main North Road through Woodend.

There have been no other resolutions on this subject since then.

The Woodend Bypass: My Position

20 September 2010

I strongly support a State Highway 1 bypass around the town.  I always have – and I voted for it when it last came up at the Council.  I regard the current route through the middle of the town as totally unacceptable.

Note that the Mayor and Cr Cole both voted against the bypass.

See also https://davidayers.wordpress.com/2008/09/02/council-decision-on-state-highway-1-route-in-woodend and https://davidayers.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/woodend-bypass-update/

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 First Pier Fixed Under the Ashley Bridge

15 September 2010

With everything else, it is easy to forget that work continued on this!  For the record, the earthquake did not do any damage to the bridge.

This is just to fix the immediate problem. We still have to work toward a new bridge – and soon.

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.

Traffic Lights for Southbrook?

7 April 2010

The possibility of traffic lights in Southbrook has, as I predicted in an earlier blog posting, got passions raised.

First of all, some related, but not necessarily connected, points.

  • When or if the traffic lights come, they may not be the first traffic lights in the District.  The NZ Transport Agency is considering putting lights on the Lineside Road/Smith Street bridge over the Motorway because of the bad accident record there.
  • Southbrook Road is easily the busiest road in Rangiora/Southbrook – about 17 000 vehicles a day.  Getting on to this road is considerably more difficult than, say, getting out of The Warehouse carpark.
  • The customers, and carpark-users, of the Pak’n Save will be ratepayers and residents, just like you and me.

People have long suggested a round-about for that corner.  Question: if you were on Flaxton Road trying to enter the roundabout at 5.00pm, would that be easy?  Roundabouts work best when there are reasonably even flows of traffic from all directions.  I often look at the one at High/King Streets – it works well for that reason.

The Southbrook and Rangiora New Life Schools and people trying to get out of Coronation and Torlesse Streets will probably appreciate the breaks in the traffic caused by the lights.

On the other hand, I will join those not appreciating being held up by the new lights! – especially when leaving the town when there is never any hold-up now, except at the railway crossing.

As regards the process and the alleged lack of consultation, it needs to be remembered that the supermarket was applying for a Resource Consent under the Resource Management Act.  The hearing was conducted by a commissioner appointed by the Council and that commissioner would have heard expert opinion from traffic engineers plus evidence from other submitters before making the decision. The only access the person-in-the-street has to that process that  is to make a submission.

In other words, it wasn’t a “yes we want it” or “no we don’t” process. It was a formal judicial process conducted under strict rules.  Someone could, for instance, have organised a petition and presented it as evidence, but the commissioner would have been weighing up the strength and validity of the arguments, not counting numbers.

Now that the commisioner has made a decision, the decision is now “owned” by the Council. The only way that the consent can be defeated or changed is by appeal to the Environment Court – and you can usually only do that if you were an original submitter.

 

It’s not only about commuters …

17 February 2010

In the projected upgrading of the road links into and around Christchurch, we need to remember that it’s not only about commuters.

Waimakariri’s farms and other businesses depend on good links to suppliers, distributors and markets.  The trucks have to have good access to the airport, Lyttelton and to areas such as Hornby.

Over such distances, freighting by rail is not an option.

Supermarket Wars in Rangiora

7 February 2010

As I think everyone in the town knows, Countdown and Pak n Save are “coming” to Rangiora.

Well, are they?  Not yet – and key decisions have yet to be made. 

Applications for Resource Consent have been made by Woolworths for a Countdown on the Rangiora Fruit and Vege site in Ivory Street, and by Foodstuffs for a Pak n Save on the Rangiora Mazda site in Southbrook Road.

Note that these are applications only.  No decisions have been made.  Resource consent applications can be dealt with in a number of ways and these will be heard in the open at a Council hearing.  Hearings can be heard by councillors or by outside commissioners, or a combination.  These hearings are likely to be heard by commissioners because of the size and complexity of the proposals. A commissioner’s decision becomes the Council’s decision.

Under the Resource Management Act, anyone can make a submission.

In both applications, two of the matters that will have to be considered are traffic and zoning.

  1. Traffic. They are both on the same north-south route.  The Pak n Save site is on Rangiora’s busiest road (up to 15 000 vehicles a day, I believe), with a busy intersection nearby and Mitre 10 Mega over the road.  For the Countdown site, Ivory Street is also very busy, and is narrow.  There is a kohanga reo over the road.
  2. Zoning. The Pak n Save site is zoned Business 2, which does not permit that kind of retailing.  The Countdown site is zoned Residential 2 (like most of Rangiora and Kaiapoi) and has residential properties on both sides.

Those are just two of the issues that will inevitably come up in the hearings.


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