Time's up for bridge's low-flying vandals
Next week's pigeon cull on the Alexandra bridge is just the start of a $750,000 facelift.
The New Zealand Transport Agency says it will cull about 400 pigeons as a result of corrosion to the bridge's steel work caused by their droppings.
Senior asset manager John Jarvis said the transport agency was becoming increasingly concerned at the damage feral birds were doing not only to the bridge's paintwork but also to its bolt nodes and joints.
"We need to get on top of the bird problem now before we can proceed with a general cleanup of the bridge."
This would involve laying anaesthetic bait to humanely eradicate pigeons, followed by scraping off droppings from steelwork and walkways, to not only start a major cleanup but stop possible health risks from spread of disease by people's constant passage to other parts of Alexandra and even into their homes.
"I don't think you can ever underestimate how easy it is to pick up this material on your shoes or on pram wheels. It's been a constant battle for us for many years."
This control work was expected to take five to seven days and would cost about $4000 out of the $750,000 budget.
Similar measures had been taken on two other Central Otago bridges, he said, and all plans were in consultation with Central Otago District Council, the Conservation Department, Otago Regional Council, SPCA, and the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.
Depending on how quickly the cull and cleanup stages could be completed, Mr Jarvis estimated that priming could start within a year, with a complete long-overdue repaint in the next five years, which could involve hoists and framework over the bridge and access reduced to just one lane at certain times.
The agency had met Central Otago District Council to discuss contribution to costs but, because the bridge, built in 1958, was part of State Highway 8, the agency expected to be footing most of the bill.
Mr Jarvis said the nearby historical bridge, whose piers were a hangout and roosting place for pigeons and other birds, did not fall within the agency's jurisdiction.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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