Future proofing the bridge

Waipā District Council transportation manager Bryan Hudson at the High Level Bridge in Cambridge. Photo: Mary Anne Gill

Cambridge’s High Level Victoria Bridge is to have a $2.6 million facelift for the first time in more than 20 years.

Work is expected to start in September and Waipā District Council transportation manager Bryan Hudson says planning is already underway.

Councillors challenged Hudson to make a better job of the bridge closure than the council did a few years ago when traffic clogged up feeder streets at various peak times during routine maintenance work.

Deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk told a recent committee meeting it caused “chaos”.

Work to maintain and future-proof the 115-year-old bridge will take up to a year

Victoria Bridge – known locally as the High Level Bridge – is the older of Cambridge’s two existing bridges. It opened in December 1907, costing £13,814 to build, while Fergusson Bridge opened in 1964 and cost £41,000.

Abseilers at work in this 2018 file photo.

The High Level bridge required a repaint every 20-25 years, mostly because of the harsh weather but also because of corrosive pigeon poo.

Paint protects the steel and prevents rusting and corrosion.

The council will try to keep both lanes open during the work but there will be times when that will not be possible, said Hudson because of the weight of the scaffolding, worker safety and other work-related conditions.

“At times when the bridge needs to be fully closed, we’ll look to carry out the work at night or at times when the bridge is less busy.”

Pedestrians, cyclists and mobility scooters will be able to cross the bridge in both directions except for when it is fully closed, he said.

Any full or partial closures would put pressure on roads leading to the Fergusson Bridge – known as the Low Level Bridge – particularly Duke Street, he said.

Council has yet to sign with a contractor but is already considering options such as a shuttle bus for Leamington residents, park and walk and walking school buses.

Once the work starts, the council would also like to run information events so residents can follow progress.

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