Call for new Tawanui bridge

Kevin Thompson
Kevin Thompson
A Clutha District Council committee yesterday recommended the Tawanui Bridge, which has been closed for about three months, be replaced.

The bridge, which spans the Catlins River 12km west of Owaka, was closed in November last year after an inspection found damage to its load-bearing structure.

Engineering and contracts manager Christian Bopp yesterday presented three possible scenarios to the council's district assets committee for reopening the bridge.

• Option one: That improvements be made immediately to bring it up to 80% class-one loading (class one is 44 tonnes), with additional repairs to bring it up to 100% class-one loading in five years, at a total cost of $800,000.

• Option two: To replace the timber bridge with a single-lane concrete structure, at a cost of $700,000.

• Option three: Carrying out immediate improvements to bring it up to 40% of class-one loading in a year, and up to 100% of class-one loading in six years, at a cost of $850,000.

Cr Kevin Thompson said he would support a new bridge, as three Catlins families were travelling a 30km round trip because of the closure.

This was not ideal for the families, and was also confusing for tourists who arrived in the Catlins and had to take the detour because they found the bridge closed, he said.

Mr Bopp said there were economic and strategic issues to consider.

He acknowledged the bridge was an important link for families and businesses in the Catlins, but the cost of replacing the bridge would come at the expense of other bridges in the district.

Mr Bopp said if option two was accepted, the new Tawanui bridge would be functional.

The council will vote on the recommendation at its next full meeting, on February 25.


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