There are currently a number of issues associated with the current bridge across the Ashburton River, which connects the Ashburton and Tinwald urban areas. These include the reliance on one structure and capacity – especially in regards to traffic flows onto State Highway 1- at peak times.
For many years, the Council and New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) have been aware of safety issues for traffic accessing, crossing and travelling along State Highway 1 through Tinwald to and from the Ashburton Urban Area.
In 2006, Council and NZTA commissioned a Transportation Study Report on current and future issues within the Ashburton urban area. Council evaluated options to reduce current and future congestion on State Highway 1 resulting in the proposal for a second urban road bridge across the Ashburton River which is considered the most effective way to reduce congestion on the state highway bridge and provide alternative access.
Although the physical construction of the bridge and new road corridor is not expected to start until 2025/26, there are still a number of project stages to be worked through. This includes obtaining resource consents, developing detailed designs and preparation and tendering of construction contracts.
A Notice of Requirement (NOR) for land designation was confirmed by Council on 22 May 2014. Land designation is a statutory process to protect the bridge location and associate road corridor on both sides of the river. Council has begun purchasing properties which sit within the area that has been designated for the new route. Discussions will continue with the remaining directly affected landowners.
The overall cost of the bridge is budgeted at $30 million subject to NZTA joint funding.