Problems with the Ōpaoa River Bridge build will delay completion. File photo.

Defects discovered on multimillion-dollar bridge

Routine tests on Marlborough’s multimillion-dollar bridge have uncovered road defects that will delay completion.

A problem with the asphalt on the Ōpaoa River Bridge was discovered by road workers carrying out standard quality control tests.

The construction company will have to pay for vital repairs delaying completion on the 10-metre wide bridge until the end of the year.

Originally expected to open in mid-2020, the bridge was set to cost around $21 million but has jumped to almost $22.7 million.

Waka Kotahi senior manager for project delivery Andy Thackwray says rigorous testing is carried out to find any potential problems.

“During construction, as road surfacing work is carried out, the pavement is subjected to robust testing so we can identify and remedy any issues before a project is completed.

“In this case, the top surfacing asphalt layer on the bridge was found to have deficiencies that, if left, would have resulted in replacement being required much sooner than its expected design life.

“The cost of remedial work will be at the contractor’s expense,” he says.

Final work on the bridge is expected to continue until mid-October with road bosses hoping to celebrate completion late this year.

Waka Kotahi has kept project delays to a minimum over the Covid-19 lockdown.

While pavement works will be completed in mid-October, smaller projects, including landscaping, work on the heritage bridge, and reinstatement of the holiday camp below the new bridge will continue into November.

“With the project progressing so well we’re now starting to plan how we can properly celebrate the completion of this important regional project alongside our partners, stakeholders and community,” Andy says.

“This will be a truly spectacular asset for the community.”

Motorists are being warned to expect delays while works continue.

Drivers are asked to please plan and be patient while the essential works are completed.

In the likelihood of bad weather, these works will be postponed for the next fine day.

  • Monday 5 October – Friday 9 October: Day-time STOP/GO from 8:30am-2:30pm each day (excluding Friday and Saturday days)
  • Monday 12 October – Friday 16 October: Day-time STOP/GO will be used anytime between 8:30am-2:30pm each day (will only be in place whilst concrete is being poured)

 

A commuter is hoping more people will take up riding the bus. Photo: Matt Brown.

Bus service trial sours as passengers not on board

Council is sinking tens of thousands of dollars into a commuter bus service that is barely being used.

Two trial bus circuits designed to take commuters to work were launched near the end of February.

But the service is falling flat with an average journey costing around $70 per passenger.

One worried commuter says she’s always travelling solo and hopes more people will jump on board.

Retail assistant Cheryl Abrahams, from Blenheim, says she wanted to reduce her carbon footprint but fears she is making it worse.

“I’m wanting to make my carbon footprint smaller but, am I, as the only one on the bus?”

The bus services, two commuter lines and a bus from Renwick, are part of an 18-month trial service.

Cheryl Abrahams wants to reduce her carbon footprint but is often the only passenger on the bus. Photo: Supplied.
Cheryl Abrahams wants to reduce her carbon footprint but is often the only passenger on the bus. Photo: Supplied.

The east and west commuter lines each do two circuits in the morning and two in the evening – eight circuits each day.

Figures from council, show passengers have taken 248 trips on the commuter bus and 342 rides on the Renwick line since the beginning of the trial to 30 June.

“All of council’s bus services were heavily impacted by the COVID pandemic,” a council spokesman says.

The commuter component of the Renwick service and both the Blenheim services were stopped from 26 March to 1 June – with full services reinstated on 2 June 2020.

Over the 30-or-so days the trial has been taking passengers, and spread out over the eight loops each day, that works out to about one passenger per trip.

The $135,442 programme, now nearly a third of the way through, is costing roughly $70 per passenger.

Cheryl, who lives in Witherlea, says it’s a no-brainer to take the bus, and thinks if more people knew about it, they would use it.

But she says bus stops don’t have the timetable for the early commuter bus posted and she’s never seen any advertising for it.

“Council has done a poor job of advertising,” she says.

“Reducing traffic by even just 5 per cent would make a huge difference. To your wallet and traffic.”

She says she was the only one to catch the east bus line into town last week and says the bus driver told her she was only the third person he had picked up since February.

Cheryl usually bikes to work, but when the weather is poor takes her car.

“Where I work there’s no all-day parking,” she says.

“To get parking, I have to walk the same distance as to the bus stop.”

It costs about $4 a day to park in a long-term carpark in town – the same amount as a return bus fare.

“I’m thrilled that it does exist,” says Cheryl.

Marlborough Roads manager Steve Murrin at the soon-to-be upgraded roundabout near Redwoodtown. Photo: Matt Brown.

A roundabout solution to road safety

A solution to crashes at a notorious Blenheim roundabout could be rolled out across the region if it works.

Fourteen accidents, some serious, have happened at the roundabout at Alabama Road and Weld Street over the last five years.

Marlborough District Council’s Assets and Services committee have revealed plans to slow down traffic which comes at a social cost of about $550,000 a year.

Marlborough Roads manager Steve Murrin says the $300,000 raised roundabout and ramps will be used on all intersections to slow people down.

“Depending on the severity of the accident, the social costs can be huge in terms of ACC claims, time off work and hospital care.

“It’s not the most dangerous in terms of the number of accidents but they are more severe and something had to be done.”

Plans for the proposed roundabout upgrade. Photo: Supplied.

And after an 18-month trial period other potentially dangerous roundabouts on Weld Street, Seymour Street and Maxwell Road could get the same treatment.

This option will help to reduce vehicle speeds and improve facilities for walking and cycling, Steve says.

“The raised roundabout will create less of an impediment for heavy vehicles than other options, and it will also feature urban design treatments to reduce the impact to residents.

“A zebra crossing, with a speed indication sign is also proposed on the Alabama Road Western approach for the nearby school and sports grounds.

“This will further help to reduce the approach speed from this direction,” he says.

Following the Committee’s decision last week, Marlborough Roads will consult with nearby residents, school and businesses before a final design is completed.

Construction works could begin this summer.

A zebra crossing will also be put down on the roundabout exit closest to Redwoodtown School, with a speed indicator sign on approach.