Home' Northern Outlook : June 22nd 2013 Contents 4 NORTHERN OUTLOOK, JUNE 22, 2013
The 100-year-old Ashley Bridge took a massive hit on Monday when the region experienced severe torrential downpours
and the Ashley River rose dramatically. The storm meant the bridge, which carries an average of 9500 vehicles a day,
was closed -- but on Tuesday Waimakariri District Council staff discovered an entire pier had washed away and the bridge
was closed indefinitely. For thousands of North Canterbury residents the bridge is a crucial lifeline, giving them easy
access to work places, schools, shops, family and friends. CATE BROUGHTON reports on the impact of the bridge closure.
Bridge closure ignites anger
DESPERATE MEASURES: Ashley resident Nicola Frame says authorities
should have acted sooner to fix the bridge.
ASHLEY RESIDENT and mother
of two Nicola Frame says her
anger and frustration over the
indefinite closure of the Ashley
Bridge this week led her to set up
a Fix Ashley Bridge Facebook
I don't normally do things like
this, but I was just so angry about
the situation,'' she said.
Ms Frame said the Waimakariri
District Council and NZ Transport
Agency should have acted sooner
to replace the bridge.
They have known for at least
three years they need to build a
new, wider, safer bridge, so they
have had at least three summers
where they could have started
things up but never did.''
The Facebook page had attrac-
ted over 800 likes'' within 24
hours of her setting it up.
Ms Frame rents a house in the
Ashley Forestry Village with her
husband and two young children.
She works in Fernside as a dog
groomer and her husband works
at the Mitre 10 saw mill. Having
to take the detour via State
Highway 1 has placed a huge
financial strain on the family.
Money normally budgeted for
food is now being used to pay for
petrol, she said.
We have a budget but it is very
tight, so the extra kilometres have
hit us hard. We were not strug-
gling until now, but the extra
kilometres have us dipping into
our food money.''
The Ashley resident is also con-
cerned about access to emergency
services, as her 4-year-old daugh-
ter has a choking disorder.
If my daughter dies because an
ambulance can't get to her in time,
they will have a real battle on
Another Ashley resident, Peter
Murch, was furious the situation
had been allowed to reach crisis
Mr Murch said he was particu-
larly concerned about the access to
emergency services, with the
response time maybe up to half
an hour extra''.
The people have had enough of
the lies and passing the buck to
some other authorities.''
North Loburn School principal
Simon Green said the bridge clos-
ure would have a huge impact on
The school has three teachers,
including himself, and has six
families that live in Rangiora.
The closure would also impact
on the curriculum, as technology
classes and gym programmes in
Rangiora would have to be recon-
sidered due to extended travel
Some parents had approached
him about the possibility of walk-
ing across the river.
That's the kind of level they
are at, because they are just so
frustrated with it.''
Rangiora resident and North
Loburn teacher Lois Pettigrew
was disappointed nothing had
been done to avoid the situation.
Even four years ago it was
deemed urgent, so how urgent is
urgent according to the powers
that be? If it was that urgent it
should have been done way back
then,'' she said.
ASHLEY BRIDGE could be
repaired within a couple of
weeks -- if damage has been
contained to the one pier that
has washed away.
Waimakariri roading and
utilities manager Gerard
Cleary said repair time
would also depend on getting
access to the bridge, which
would require low river
If further damage to other
piers was discovered during
an engineering assessment --
yet to be carried out -- the
repair strategy and timetable
would need to be adjusted, he
A bulldozer has been
stationed in the river, but the
river flows have not been
diverted as the water levels
have remained high all week.
This has delayed the
Traffic backs up in Sefton
TRAFFIC WOES: Police say motorists taking the
detour from areas north of Ashley Bridge are
Photo: DEAN KOZANIC
POLICE ARE asking motorists to
consider alternative routes to ease
traffic delays caused by the Ash-
ley Bridge closure.
Residents from Loburn, North
Loburn, Sefton and Ashley head-
ing to Rangiora and Christchurch
have been forced to take a detour
on Wyllies Rd, Sefton, which joins
State Highway 1.
Those going to Rangiora are
mostly choosing to drive through
Waikuku township and turn right
into Gressons Rd.
Senior Sergeant Malcolm John-
ston said cars had been backed up
at both intersections with traffic
waiting to turn from Wyllies Rd
on to State Highway 1, and from
the Highway on to Gressons Rd.
Mr Johnston asked motorists to
consider using alternative routes.
We would like people
to think about turning
right into Tulls Rd
instead of Gressons Rd,''
Motorists could also
avoid the back up at
Wyllies Rd by staying on
Sefton Rd and accessing
the highway from Har-
leston Rd instead.
It is a bit further to
travel but it might save
you some time,'' Mr
Police were manning
both intersections on
Monday and Tuesday,
but did not have staff to continue
that work indefinitely.
Mr Johnston said congestion
had been particularly noticeable
in the mornings, and he asked
motorists to be patient and con-
sider other options for their
THE INDEFINITE closure of the
Ashley Bridge could be the nail in
the coffin'' for struggling Rangiora
retailers, according to the chair-
man of the town's business
Gerald Horton said the closure
meant many people north of the
bridge who usually shopped in the
town would go elsewhere.
They certainly won't come and
shop in Rangiora and go the long
Mr Horton said he was very
concerned about the effect on an
extremely fragile'' retail situation
after the earthquakes.
A lot of the retailers are strug-
gling now because of High Street
being fenced off, and people just
aren't shopping there the way
they used to. All I can say is those
that are left in Rangiora please
support local retailers because if
they are not supported now, they
might not be here in two years'
Several residents living north of
the bridge who commute to
Christchurch for work told the
Northern Outlook they were now
doing their supermarket shopping
in the city rather than Rangiora.
Mayor David Ayers acknow-
ledged the closure would have an
effect on businesses in Rangiora,
but also said it may work in
favour of Kaiapoi retailers.
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