Merivale bridges being demolished and rebuilt

Many Merivale residents will be forced to take alternative driving routes over the next 8 months.

Demolition work began this week on two bridges down Poynder Ave and Garden Rd. The bridges were both built back in 1910 but are not listed as heritage structures.

Christchurch City Council says the structures have reached "the end of their design life" and are no longer safe for vehicles to use.

Planning and delivery transport manager Jacob Bradbury said the decision to replace the bridges rather than repair them was made after an evaluation into which option was more cost-effective.

"Both the new bridges will have a design working life of 100 years in line with standard New Zealand practice for new bridges," Bradbury said.

Fendalton Ward Christchurch city councillor James Gough said the work is well overdue.

"The bridges are being entirely demolished and then reconstructed," Gough said.

"It should take each about four months, but it will be a welcome addition. And the community, I think, are looking forward to it."

The bridges will have a new design and Orion and Chorus cables will be relocated. The new layout will include more space for motorists and cyclists, as well as footpaths for pedestrians.

Gough said: "Certainly, as a parent who, you know, does the park circuit around the neighbourhood streets with the pram and the three children, you know, we're certainly looking forward to it having footpaths." 

But the city council acknowledged it will create an inconvenience for residents with traffic delays, detours, and road closures.

Gough said it is hard to please everyone but the new bridges will make all the difference.

"There's a little bit of noise and that's par for the course. Also, residents might see in the river an increased level of sediment - that's temporary. But again, it's just a by-product of the construction."

The Poynder Ave bridge will be the first to be demolished, with work starting earlier this week.

Once the new bridge is completed and opened in late July, work will begin on demolishing the Garden Rd bridge.

The council said the total cost of the project will be around $2.1 million. Both bridges are expected to be open to residents by November.

- By Emily O'Hagan, made with the support of NZ On Air