An ambitious one-year bridge replacement programme kicked off in Southland District in May.
Up to 19 bridges, most of them old wooden structures, will be replaced over the next 12 months, with the work divided into two contracts, northern and southern.
SouthRoads has the northern contract of up to nine bridges and Downer the southern contract of up to 10 bridges.
Of the 850 bridges in Southland District, 171 need to be replaced or closed in the next 12 years and a further 22 in the eight years after that. Based on Southland District Council’s current allocated funding there is a significant shortfall in money available to replace all these bridges within the next 12 years.
In May 2019, Council approved unbudgeted expenditure of $3 million to help resolve some of the immediate shortfall. The $3 million cost is being shared between SDC and its government co-funder, the NZ Transport Agency, which is paying 51%, or $1.53 million, of the total cost, with Council’s share $1.47 million.
The 19 selected for replacement are all old timber single-span bridges where there is no alternative access to nearby properties.
The first bridge to be replaced was the Cook Road bridge in the Awarua Wetlands.
As the bridge replacements continue over the next 12 months, Southland District Council will be engaging with communities about options for managing ageing infrastructure, so that budgets and work programmes can be set for Council’s next 10 Year Plan, which is due in 2021.