'Lifeline' bridge on target to reopen Friday

Otago regional councillor Carmen Hope in front of the washed-out Mt Stoker Bridge, which is being repaired by Fulton Hogan civil foreman Merv Morris. Photo: Linda Robertson
Otago regional councillor Carmen Hope in front of the washed-out Mt Stoker Bridge, which is being repaired by Fulton Hogan civil foreman Merv Morris. Photo: Linda Robertson
Middlemarch farmers affected by the washout of the Mt Stoker Bridge during the recent floods may have a replacement before the end of this week.

Repairs to the bridge have been progressing well and farmers in the area are delighted there will soon be no more cross-country, four-wheel-driving detours needed to get to civilisation.

Otago regional councillor Carmen Hope lives at Roadsende Station, in Bray Rd, 25km from Middlemarch, and has to cross the bridge on Mt Stoker Rd to get to Middlemarch.

She said that since the flood destroyed the bridge, it had been a real pain ''in the you know what'' trying to get to State Highway 87.

''Because there's no bridge at Sutton now, we're stuck. We really needed the Mt Stoker Bridge to get anywhere.''

She said farmers in the area had been having to take a longer, alternative route down Shinglea Rd, on to Bald Hill Rd and then down Moonlight Rd.

''You may as well add on 30 minutes to your journey taking the detour - and that's on a good day.

''It's a one-lane road and the danger at the moment is the grass is so long, you can't see what's coming around the corner.

''There's a lot of blind corners. You've got to have your wits about you.''

She said many affected residents had been very lucky to use a farmer's ford to cross the stream, but it could be crossed only in four-wheel-drive vehicles and it could not be used when it rained.

''We're lucky. Not everybody has a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The school bus has to take the long way.

''You don't know how much you miss it until you don't have it.

''You're in trouble. You're stuffed because it's your lifeline.

''It affects a lot of people. More than 50 vehicles cross this bridge every day. At the moment you've got agricultural workers, vets, there's still shearing going on.

''It's so important that it reopens.''

Dunedin City Council transport delivery manager Josh von Pein said it was hoped the bridge would be reopened by 5pm on Friday, all going well.

The weather had been good, which allowed contractors to stay on target for completion, he said.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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