Ashley Bridge to reopen in two weeks

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 07:23 27/06/2013
Ashley Bridge
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

STORM DAMAGE: Repairs are under way at the Ashley Bridge in Rangiora after the river, swollen by heavy rain, washed away one of the structure's piers last week.

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A busy Rangiora bridge damaged by last week's storms should reopen in two weeks, ending "major disruptions" for local commuters.

The Ashley Bridge at Cones Rd was closed last Monday after high river levels following heavy rain swept away one of the structure's 20 piers. A 22-kilometre detour was put in place, causing "major disruptions" to Christchurch-bound commuters, Waimakariri District Council utilities and roading manager Gerard Cleary said.

About 9500 vehicles used the bridge every day.

Contractors were working to repair the damage but it would take at least two weeks before the bridge was reopened and the time target was "very weather dependent", he said.

Weaknesses in the bridge were identified in 2010, and the council set aside money for a new bridge it would jointly fund with the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), Cleary said.

The design of the new bridge was well under way and last night NZTA southern regional director Jim Harland said funding for the project would be brought forward.

Cleary said the bridge would cost $11 million and would take more than a year to build, but work would start as quickly as possible.

The proposed design includes two traffic lanes as well as two cycle lanes and a footpath.

"Once we've repaired the [existing] bridge then it will be perfectly safe for vehicles to use again," Cleary said.

"We will continue to close it in the event of storms though . . . [however] we know it is a real inconvenience for road users."

The existing bridge was built in the early 1900s.

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- The Press

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