Truckies keener on bypass than bridge

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 08:56 02/07/2014
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Blenheim needs a bypass to cut traffic jams caused by trucks passing through the town, truckies say.

Blenheim man Ross Hamilton said an upgrade to the existing Opawa River bridge did not go far enough and a bypass was the only way to reduce bottlenecks.

Blenheim's multitude of roundabouts proved a bone of contention for truckies, causing grape spills on roads during harvest and travel delays, he said.

The Opawa River bridge, which is almost 100 years old, is not wide enough for two trucks to pass each other. Prime Minister John Key said a new bridge could be built within three years and would make the road safer.

AA Marlborough district chairman Mike Petersen said he supported the new bridge.

"The Opawa Bridge has long been a source of apprehension for many drivers arising from its narrow deck width"

However, Hamilton said a bypass would be a better option.

The increase in grape trucks passing through Blenheim would compound traffic delays, he said.

"I have driven grape trucks for the last two years and it is very hard to get through town. There are always spillages. Grape trucks are on the increase and with a lot of development this year before harvest and ongoing developments, the grape problem will only increase.

"From my experience, the bridge is not too bad but drivers waste three-quarters of their time getting through the town's roundabouts.

"When you are driving a large truck with a heavy load, you have to wait for a large gap before you take off which holds up traffic."

Councillor Jamie Arbuckle said a new Opawa River bridge was the main target on the council agenda.

"There is opposition to a bypass, some say it would kill the town," Arbuckle said.

Town and Around Freight and Salvage owner Neil Jorgensen said a bypass was first mooted 30 years ago between the Vickerman St railway level crossing and the end of Main St but fell through because of opposition that it would kill trade. Money would be better spent on a bypass than a new bridge, he said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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