Ashley Bridge washout forces school run detour

Last updated 05:00 20/06/2013
ashley bridge landscape

GONE: The Ashley bridge is missing a pier, thanks to flood damage.

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It normally takes Rangiora mum Catherine Widdowson 10 minutes to drive her son to school.

Now it takes her three times that.

Her son Finlay, 9, attends Ashley School, on the other side of the Ashley Bridge, which has closed after flooding swept away one of its piers.

The Rangiora High School teacher aid said it was an "inconvenience" travelling the considerably longer route but conceded "there's nothing I can do about it apart from put more petrol in the car".

Widdowson filled up her car on Tuesday, and yesterday already half a tank was gone.

Ashley School principal Craig Mullan said for a number of parents and students who lived on the other side of the bridge it was "a pain".

The bridge provided a "lifeline" for those people, he said.

He was also concerned about the impact the closure would have on response times for emergency services.

Rangiora grandmother Delia Dowling, who was picking up her grandson, Charlie Musson, 7, from the school yesterday, said the detour made for a long day for affected children.

She felt it would have been better if the bridge had been "wiped out completely" so it could have been rebuilt as it should have been years ago.

But there has been a positive spinoff from the bridge closure for one Sefton business along the diversion.

Anglers Arms Tavern duty manager Victoria Robinson said business had been booming.

"It's at least doubled," she said.

The bridge, which has been closed since Monday, would remain so until at least next week, Waimakariri District Council utilities and roading manager Gerard Cleary said.

Yesterday, a bulldozer was deployed in an attempt to divert the flow of water and allow engineers to assess the extent of the damage.

It was likely the bridge would remain closed "significantly longer", Cleary said.

Work was subject to weather conditions, and today's predicted snow threatened to cause more damage, raising the water level again to threaten any diversion work completed.

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- The Press

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