DCC approves more modern bridge option for Sutton

Lee Vandervis
Lee Vandervis
The Dunedin City Council has thrown its support behind an alternative plan to build a modern bridge across the Taieri River at Sutton.

The decision came after debate at yesterday's DCC infrastructure services and networks committee meeting and a plea from Middlemarch farmers to act quickly on the project.

Councillors had been expected to vote on a recommended option of a ``new heritage bridge'', costing up to $2million, to replace the 19th-century bridge which collapsed during last July's floods.

Councillors voted 11-1 in favour of the modern bridge option, despite concerns from some the move did not do enough to ensure heritage values would be incorporated into the new design.

Cr Lee Vandervis was the only councillor to vote against the move, arguing for a suspension bridge that would be more appropriate to the area's heritage values.

The vote came after a group of Middlemarch farmers, including Lynnore Templeton and Leon Leslie, urged councillors to move quickly.

Mrs Templeton told the meeting she had used the old bridge daily for stock movements and other activities associated with her farm, which spanned both sides of the river.

The destruction of the bridge had ``seriously impacted'' the farm's operation, including about $8500 in direct transport costs and an estimated $25,000 in reduced productivity.

Neighbouring farmer Leon Leslie faced the same problem, estimating extra transport costs of $7500 and $20,000 in lost productivity.

Both farmers wanted a single-lane bridge wide and strong enough to accommodate their machinery, which meant upping its weight limit from the 20 tonnes of the old structure to 50 tonnes.

And, more than any other considerations, the council needed to get on with it, Mrs Templeton said.

Council transport group manager Richard Saunders, responding to councillors' questions, said heritage elements would still feature in the design of a new bridge.

The plans would be shaped by public consultation, and talks with NZTA, before being brought back to councillors for a final decision.

He hoped to have a design for the new bridge confirmed in order for construction to begin in summer.


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