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Iconic footbridge restoration approved

Iconic footbridge restoration approved
The Ashburton District Council has adopted a management plan for Ashburton’s historic rail footbridge and will seek funding assistance for its maintenance and renewal work, which includes the restoration of the central steel truss.

Ashburton’s iconic rail footbridge will be restored, when the funding becomes available.
In adopting the conservation management plan for the footbridge, the Ashburton District Council agreed to fund the maintenance and renewal of the historic structure.
How it will be funded is the next step for the 106-year-old footbridge.
Roading manager Mark Chamberlain said the decision was the council has an asset and “do we want to keep it and spend money on it in the future”.
The answer from the councillors was yes.
Councillor Carolyn Cameron said for the sake of connectivity “it needs to be maintained”.
As well as the connection between East and West streets, councillor Phill Hooper believed the council had safety obligations to maintain the 25-metre long overpass option because, as chief executive Hamish Riach pointed out, with the shunting yards shifting north to the Fairfield Freight Hub trains will be passing through town at a greater speed in future.
In his report, Chamberlain outlined there was $255,000 worth of work that was identified in 2018, so likely to have risen, and “while the bridge is in poor condition . . . there is little risk associated with leaving the work until funding is approved”.
As it is a footbridge, Chamberlain said it is eligible to be part of the council’s subsidised roading budgets for structures, with Waka Kotahi contributing 51 per cent.
That budget in the current 2021-24 period is $297,979, or around $99,000 per year, which is to cover the 187 bridges in the district.
Chamberlain said in the next period there will need to be a significant funding increase.
An assessment of the bridge assets estimated around $2.58 million of maintenance and renewals, including the footbridge, and there are four bridges due for replacement at an estimated $1.18m.
Other funding options for the footbridge include possible grants from the Railway Heritage Trust, Historic Places Mid Canterbury, or Heritage New Zealand.
A curve ball option is to use some of the $900,000 of Three Waters Better Off funding that was allocated to new footpaths.
Riach said where that $900,000 is to be spent was still to be decided by the council, so there was “potential” it could include the footbridge.
“We could give some consideration to how this might apply,” Riach said.

  • By Jonathan Leask