Council vote progresses second bridge process

Published: 8 October 2021

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Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown says a decision to progress a detailed business case for a second bridge over the Ashburton River at Chalmers Avenue is an important step in improving the connectivity between Tinwald and Ashburton.

“A second bridge there will also improve resilience not only between communities on either side of the river, but for transport networks around the South Island.

“Waka Kotahi have also indicated Chalmers Avenue is their preferred location and they are an important funding partner in this project.”

Ashburton District Councillors voted on Wednesday (6 October) to progress the case for a second bridge by asking for a final detailed report, which will add even more traffic modelling and include economic and cost-benefit data. It is not expected to show any fatal flaws.

Mayor Brown said the three-stage business case was an established process that would help Council attract funding for the bridge.

Council estimated the cost of the bridge in its Long Term Plan at $37 million and has budgeted 20 per cent (or $7.5m) as its contribution to the project. It hopes to secure the remainder from Waka Kotahi and Government.

“The purpose of the indicative business case report approved by Councillors on Wednesday is to attract funding. If Council wanted to pay the whole cost of a second bridge then it could put it anywhere, but that cost would be borne by ratepayers.

“Waka Kotahi has supported us on the journey so far and we need this to happen sooner rather than later, especially since we saw how the town and whole South Island were impacted when the existing State Highway 1 bridge was out of action for a few days after the May floods.

“Reports over the years have always indicated Chalmers Avenue was the right location and we consulted with the community when we sought a Notice of Requirement in 2014 for land that would be needed. Some people were not happy with the location, but a lot were.”

Councillors and the community will be kept up to date as the detailed case is prepared over the next year or so.

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