Trees have been felled beside the Red Bridge, near Luggate,
to improve traffic sight lines and reduce possible hazards
to the old structure. Photo by Matthew Haggart.
Tree-felling projects are off the New Zealand Transport
Agency's "immediate" agenda as part of an ongoing Central Otago
regional roading and highway upgrade programme.
NZTA Central Otago area engineer John Jarvis said it was not
uncommon for contractors to remove trees for safety reasons
as part of its ongoing highway, road, and bridge maintenance
About 30 trees, deemed by NZTA's consultants to be "rotten"
and "sickly" have been felled beside the Red Bridge, spanning
the Clutha River near Luggate, Mr Jarvis said.
The NZTA recently completed a $280,000 upgrade, structural
assessment, and repainting of the 96-year-old one-lane, steel
The trees were removed because they were considered to be
"very dangerous" and rotten, Mr Jarvis said.
"They posed a safety risk to the structure of the bridge ...
and we also needed to improve traffic sight lines," he said.
The trees were removed with the agreement of representatives
of the Luggate Residents Association and the Queenstown Lakes
District Council, he said.
Association chairman Geoff Taylor said there was no concern
about the decision to fell the trees and that the community
"We were a little bit surprised at the number taken away, but
it has been done now," he said.
QLDC community services manager Paul Wilson could not be
contacted yesterday for comment.
The NZTA had a policy of "minimising risk" when it came to
identifying potential hazards to road users and its national
highway network, Mr Jarvis said.
Alexandra residents complained last month when the NZTA
removed trees it considered a risk beside the State Highway 8
bridge in the town.
"That is another steel bridge which we consider to be
extremely vulnerable to damage, and trees were identified as
a structural risk should they fall and collide [with the
bridge]," Mr Jarvis said.
The NZTA is also working on upgrading the one-lane SH6
Kawarau Falls bridge at Frankton.