Clutha District Council is disappointed that strengthening of the Clydevale Bridge has not received central government funding assistance at this stage.
The National Land Transport Programme released last week by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) currently lists Clydevale Bridge strengthening as a 'reserve project'. This means its priority is not high enough to receive funding assistance at present and that it currently is unlikely to proceed within the next three years.
Council will be working with the NZTA to update and review the information regarding this project, in particular its significance in terms of inter-region freight and network security to see if the priority can be lifted.
If approved, the NZTA would provide Council with 69% share for strengthening the bridge.
Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said the news would frustrate regular heavy vehicle users of the bridge.
"Without the NZTA share, the strengthening project just isn't viable." Mayor Cadogan said. "The Clutha District Council has budgeted for its share and the plans are in the drawer to put the work out to contract. We are ready to go and it is disappointing that it has not been included in the programme for the next three years."
The Clydevale Bridge spans the Clutha River about 22km north-west of Balclutha. It is strategically located, linking Clutha with Central Otago, and is the only major bridge over the Clutha River in the district capable of handling wide loads.
New weight restrictions (50% of Class One; 23 tonne maximum) were placed on the bridge in November 2009 after a detailed historical investigation found it was never initially designed and constructed for Class One (44 tonne) loads.
Last year, Council resolved to seek an upgrade of the bridge to Class One load capacity rather than seeking to replace the key strategic asset. Strengthening would enable the bridge to take standard Class 1 (44 tonne) heavy vehicles on a regular basis, rather than requiring a permit to be issued for a restricted term.
Strengthening was estimated to cost about $974,000, of which Council's share would have been $300,000. A new single lane bridge was estimated to cost about $5.8 million, of which Council‟s share would have been about $1.8 million.
Mayor Cadogan said the Otago Regional Land Transport Committee had already deemed the Clydevale, Beaumont and Kawarau Falls bridge projects as 'inter-regionally' significant because of the need to maintain key freight and/or tourism routes with other regions.
The Canterbury Regional Transport Committee had even identified Clydevale and Beaumont bridges as regionally significant to Canterbury, he said.
In the meantime, Council's priority is to keep the bridge open.
Manager District Assets Jules Witt said an engineer‟s assessment would be undertaken to review how the bridge is currently handling permitted loads which are more than the posted weight limit. If the assessment reveals damage or degradation to the bridge structure then the current permit system may be reviewed.
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