National | Ashburton

Closure and safety tests on Ashburton bridge cuts off main highway

Safety tests on how much weight Ashburton River/Hakatere Bridge can withstand are being conducted following flood damage.

Experts say the damage to the bridge, which is a main thoroughfare for State Highway 1, is concerning.

The bridge suffered from rising floodwaters for 48 hours from May 31 to June 1. Water wash, tree trunks and debris banged into the bridge structure during the two days of floods.

At peak flooding, Ashburton River had 140 times more than its average volume of water flowing under the bridge.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency System Manager Pete Connors says the damaged pier, which sank around 150mm during the one-in-100-year floods, is stable, based on the monitoring data received.

Bridge safety tests

After being closed at 6.50am on Tuesday,  the bridge was reopened at 10pm so light vehicles could travel across. Waka Kotahi also conducted tests using a crane and 14-tonne weights.

The bridge was then reclosed at 10am today after drivers reported slumping on the deck at the Ashburton end of the bridge.

Load testing for heavier traffic such as trucks and buses is underway until 2pm when experts will then reassess whether it is safe or not to reopen the bridge.

Connors says Waka Kotahi’s bridge engineers are working on the longer-term solutions for this bridge’s pier "and we will keep the community informed as that is developed."

Closures and repairs

There are now just two highway closures in Canterbury due to landslips and flooding.

State Highway 73 from Springfield to Castle Hill is closed but aims to reopen late Thursday, June 3.

And there is a closure on State Highway 1  at the Hinds River Bridge with a signposted road detour in place.

All other state highways in Canterbury are now open but motorists are advised to take care and slow down as flooding debris is being cleared.

Many roads will need patching and repairs after being underwater and damaged by debris for 48 hours," Connors says.

There will be temporary speed limits in several places around the Canterbury region while crews catch up with that work.”

For local road details that do not involve the Ashburton River/ Hakatere Bridge, please check the links in red at the top of the Waka Kotahi webpage here.