Overbridge plan dusted off

Holcim's decision to make the Port of Timaru its South Island terminal could put an overbridge from North St back on the drawing board.

The overbridge, which would take the place of the Heaton St railway crossing, has remained on the Timaru District Council's long-term plan having been up for discussion on and off since 2009.

On Monday Holcim announced it would build a 30,000-tonne import terminal for cement at Timaru and at the Ports of Auckland. Construction is expected to begin in the middle of next year.

Council land transport manager Andrew Dixon said a big increase of traffic to the port could cause the overbridge to become an active prospect.

"It is still sitting in the long-term plan and the land has been put aside to make sure no one else builds on it. It is owned by KiwiRail and PrimePort Timaru."

PrimePort Timaru had a significant downturn in container trade, which pushed the project back further.

However, Holcim's arrival could result in an increase in road and train traffic. "It will be on a needs basis, we don't want to invest a lot of money if we don't need to."

In 2009 the council successfully applied for a designation over land that would be required if the overbridge was to be built over the railyards.

That designation still has another six years to run.

Initially the council planned to start the project in the 2008-09 financial year, but it was delayed as the $4.6 million project was unlikely to have attracted national or regional funding at that stage.

At the designations hearing, PrimePort Timaru identified 17 port-based businesses supporting the overbridge as an asset to the port area.

About 15 North St businesses were opposed to the idea, because it would bring increased heavy traffic down the street, causing concern about access and safety.

The Timaru Herald