Reopening of track bridges delayed

The reopening of two of Upper Clutha’s most popular walking bridges has been delayed.

And a third walking bridge has received an estimated opening window for the first time.

Last week, the Department of Conservation (Doc) said "extensive remediation work" on the Rob Roy, Blue Pools and Makarora bridges was expected to be completed sometime this summer.

Doc Central Otago operations manager Nicola Holmes said Doc was "thrilled" contractors would be able begin work on the ground in the next few weeks.

"This work is a significant undertaking requiring bespoke engineering and logistics — it takes time to achieve but now having done the prep work we’re in a great position to press forward."

The Blue Pools Track in Makarora and the Rob Roy Track in Wānaka were abruptly closed in May last year after Doc announced major maintenance work was required, including the total replacement of one of the suspension bridges.

While a Doc spokesman originally said the department hoped to have the Blue Pools Track opened to the public by March this year, tender documents obtained by the Otago Daily Times showed work was not expected to begin until April and would take about five months to complete.

Prior to last week’s statement, a timeframe for the reopening of the Rob Roy Track had not been given.

Mrs Holmes did not say why work had not begun in April, but said Doc had been working to finalise the contract and confirm the construction schedule with the contractor since closing the tender process in March.

"However, in that time we also began sourcing and ordering materials from overseas needed for the works, minimising the risk that lengthy procurement delays would impact the project."

She said work on the Makarora and Blue Pools bridges work would begin next week and "we’re estimating a four- to five-month build schedule."

Meanwhile, Rob Roy was expected to take about six weeks to complete. Work on the ground would begin at the end of July.

By Regan Harris