Ashley Bridge closure causes delays
The closure of the Ashley Bridge after flooding swept away one of its piers has caused congestion and long delays for North Cantabrians commuting into Christchurch today.
The bridge has been closed since 7am on Monday and would remain closed indefinitely because of flooding damage to one of its 20 piers.
Waimakariri District Council utilities and roading manager Gerard Cleary said a specialist engineer and contractors had started work this morning to divert the river away from the damaged pier to allow "a more thorough assessment" of the damage.
The bridge would be closed for at least the rest of the week, but Cleary said it was not know how long it would be closed for in total.
"We're not sure of the extent of the damage. We're not sure if it's just one pier or if there's damage to the adjacent pier."
The work was subject to weather conditions, with tomorrow's predicted snow threatening to cause more damage.
"The risk with snow is that when it melts it might bring the water level up again and could damage any diversion work we've done."
The bridge closure had been expected to cause delays for motorists as they joined State Highway 1 leading in and out of Christchurch and the council would be working with the NZ Transport Agency and police to manage congestion, Cleary said.
"That area is under a lot of pressure and people will have to expect some delays there at those peak hours."
Police would be "stepping up their patrols in the area" so they were able to "direct traffic as they feel it's necessary", Cleary said.
"We'll be monitoring the situation on a daily basis until we get a better idea of when we're going to have the bridge open for traffic again."
Meanwhile, in Christchurch, motorists were warned of delays at a busy intersection after traffic lights went down this morning.
Traffic signals in Blenheim Rd, at the intersection with Matipo St, were expected to be working again about 10am.
A police spokesman said it was possible the lights would not be fixed until noon as the cause of the problem was still being determined.
Drivers were advised to take alternative routes and should expect delays.