'Lifeline' bridge project reaches crucial milestone

A major milestone for New Brighton's "lifeline" Pages Rd bridge project has been reached.

On Thursday, a hearings panel listened to public submissions on the $65 million project.

Christchurch City Council wants to replace the old earthquake-damaged Pages Rd bridge with a new one, better able to handle evacuations in the event of a natural disaster.

It's an important issue for the community. More than 250 individuals and organisations gave their views on the project and draft design.

In March, Christchurch city councillors Celeste Donovan and Aaron Keown presented the council’s submission to the Canterbury Regional Transport Committee urging it to move the New Brighton bridge upgrade from No 12 to No 1 on its list of priorities.

Donovan, who represents the Coastal Ward, said the bridge was in her view the No 1 project for the region.

"It provides the lifeline link to the area. So we know if there was a tsunami or another event that it provides the key linkage for the eastern suburbs to get out of the area, so it is really vital that we get that work completed as soon as possible."

Donovan said the project cannot be delayed any further due to the need to improve traffic flow during evacuations and other emergency scenarios.

“I believe we can’t afford any delays to this project, as this bridge serves as a lifeline route into and out of New Brighton and the structure carries critical communication and electricity cables, as well as water/wastewater services across the river,” Donovan said. 

“The Pages Rd bridge was initially ranked as the No 1 project in our region, but it got moved down."



New Brighton's earthquake-damaged Pages Rd bridge meets only 15%-20% of the new building...
New Brighton's earthquake-damaged Pages Rd bridge meets only 15%-20% of the new building standards. Photo: Geoff Sloan
A report by council staff also said if nothing was done, the bridge would continue to deteriorate, risking the safety of thousands of residents. Donovan says council and most submitters were united in their calls for a new bridge.

The "Gateway to New Brighton" project would see the bridge completely replaced, along with changes to surrounding streets and intersections.

The aim is to significantly improve traffic flow in and out of the area, with one lane for eastbound traffic into New Brighton, and two lanes for vehicles heading out of the seaside suburb.

The new bridge will be built slightly north of the existing one, allowing the current bridge to remain open while the replacement is being constructed.

It is expected to take a few months for all the submissions to be collated, before the final project is presented to city councillors to vote on.

By Geoff Sloan, made with the support of NZ On Air