Plans should be made immediately to ensure a five-month $2.5 million makeover of Cambridge’s historic Victoria Bridge has little impact on the town’s traffic.
Waipā deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk made the plea at this week’s Service Delivery committee meeting saying the last time the bridge – known locally as the High Level bridge – shut down for maintenance, it caused chaos.
The bridge requires repair work and painting. The work is expected to start before Christmas and the bulk of the work will take place from January through to May next year.
Stolwyk said she was “really keen” to see some active solutions in place before it heard from the community.
“It is always astounding how many engineers there are in Cambridge,” she said. “We have enough lead in time to develop a really, really good plan.”
Her suggestions, if one or two lanes of the High Level bridge closed during the work, included creating a temporary roundabout at the southern end of Duke Street to allow more turns onto Fergusson Bridge.
Transportation manager Bryan Hudson said the council was working with its consultants to identify the origin and destination of a sample of traffic over Fergusson and Victoria bridges.
“That will help build the picture of where the pressure points will be,” he said.
Another option was to use light weight scaffolding to keep the weight down and allow both lanes to remain open.
Failing that, the southbound lane could be open in the evening peak.
Stolwyk said anytime the High Level bridge was partially or fully closed created frustrations in the community.
“Now’s the time to interpret the data and put a really strong plan in place. I want to see the High Level bridge maintenance plan successfully delivered.”
Traffic congestion in Cambridge had been a “testy” subject for some time she said. “But that is certainly very typical of a growing town. We’re moving in a really positive direction to make changes,” she said referring to the council’s recently adopted 30-year Transport Strategy.
The strategy confirmed the need for a third bridge in Cambridge with money set aside last year for a business case to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
The business case will make a pitch for government funding to help pay for the new bridge.
“It’s not always about roads,” said Stolwyk. This was time for Waipā and the Cambridge community to be innovative, particularly given the ongoing congestion.
Meanwhile Cambridge Road, between Te Awamutu and Cambridge, has become “bumpy” in places, Hudson told the committee.
“We want to smooth it out for the winter,” he said in response to Cr Roger Gordon who noted the road was becoming a real challenge.
Hudson said most of the road was built on peat which created issues. The council’s activity management plan worked on the basis that the road needs upgrading every five to seven years.