Thursday, July 18, 2024

$20m bridge overhaul proposed for Central Otago

A draft bridge strategy developed by the Central Otago District Council’s roading team has identified priorities and provided insights into an estimated $20 million overhaul of the district’s ageing bridge network.

The Council is required to submit its final roading work programme, and funding application for the next three years (2024-2027) to Waka Kotahi by 8 December. The Council receives a 51% funding subsidy from the transport agency for bridge and structure component replacements.

Late last week, the roading team presented a draft bridge strategy that highlighted the critical state of the district’s bridges and the prioritisation approach to be used in the funding application.

This would help inform the Council’s Transportation Activity Management Plan, and ultimately the 2024 Long-term Plan.

Council Infrastructure Manager, Quinton Penniall said at least 30 of the district’s bridges were at the end or would be nearing the end on their useful lives within the next 10 years.

The estimated cost to completely replace all bridges in the next decade would be about $20 million.

Council’s current budget for all bridge maintenance and renewals is $660,000 per annum or $7.6 million over 10 years, and this replacement backlog will continue over the next 30 years as a ‘bow wave’ of bridge replacements approaches, Council said in a statement.

A specialist bridge engineer in collaboration with the Council has identified a backlog of work, Council said.

An estimated $1.5m of maintenance and $2.5m of component replacement would be required to ensure existing assets reach the end of their useful lives.

The process to identify and prioritise known critical bridges has already commenced. Recommendations include Little Valley Bridge at Alexandra, which would involve replacement of the timber components ($2.3m bridge deck replacement) and strengthening of the piles, rather than replacement of the whole structure; Maniototo Road Bridge (pictured) – earmarked for replacement and possible divestment. (Divestment is the Council potentially divesting itself of ownership of an asset.)

Funding is also being sought for Scott Lane Bridge near Kyeburn, badly damaged by the 2021 January floods for replacement with lower-level service structure or alternatively no renewal may be considered. These recommendations are subject to Waka Kotahi approval for co-funding.Decisions relating to the future of bridges may impact on levels of service and increase rates, and/or council debt, therefore would be a key consideration for Council’s Financial Strategy for the 2024 Long-term plan.

Councillors Stu Duncan and Tracy Paterson, who lead the Council’s roading portfolio, commended the roading team on the “plan of attack” for the next 30 years.

“Great to having some forward movement, so thankyou to the team,” Cr Paterson said.

The roading team submitted its three-year Land Transport Plan to Waka Kotahi on Friday.

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