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Tests delay Countdown opening

PETRICE TARRANT
Last updated 05:00 06/11/2012
Dargaville mill

SCENERY CHANGES: Before it was turned into a supermarket, the area that is now occupied by Countdown and its car park was the timber yard for Dargaville Mill.

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Dargaville & Districts

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Ground testing has pushed the completion date of Dargaville's new Countdown back six months.

Initial test results indicated the ground conditions weren't ideal but a new design means the supermarket is no longer moving from one precarious site to the next.

The $22 million development was due to open in early January but this has now been pushed back to the second half of next year.

The development's close proximity to the river means the ground conditions require extra testing and the development of a new design.

But the land Countdown is on now was causing problems of its own - the earth, which contains a substantial amount of sawdust, is experiencing subsidence.

The land from the Northern Wairoa Boating Club right up to Countdown was occupied by Dargaville Mill and its timber yard more than 50 years ago.

Ron Hunter, 92, still remembers standing knee deep in sawdust when he worked for 18 years on the timber yard.

Geological technical tests revealed a considerable amount of sawdust on the new site's foundation but there is not enough to cause concern.

National construction manager for Countdown supermarkets Simon Scott says the issues were around the new site's close proximity to the river.

"The ‘unique challenges' relate solely to the ground conditions and does not relate to the site's former use in any way," he says.

"As the ground is very silty with a high water table, they require specific engineering solutions to satisfy the requirements and the ground had to be tested with sophisticated equipment on site."

The testing has delayed the whole process but the team has arrived at a suitable design which works with the ground's conditions and, subject to approval, the new Countdown store should be under way with work on foundations before the end of the year. With 34 job vacancies on the cards the go ahead couldn't come at a better time.

If anyone has further information regarding the history of the old or new Countdown site email us at dargaville.editor@snl.co.nz or drop in to Dargaville & Districts News, Victoria St, Dargaville.

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- Dargaville News

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