Ero­sion shuts down car park

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - KOREN ALL­PRESS

Per­ma­nent gates have been in­stalled to pre­vent ve­hi­cles ac­cess­ing the Patiti Point car park in Ti­maru af­ter the cliffs be­neath the road lead­ing to it were eroded in last week’s se­vere storms, as ex­trop­i­cal Cy­clone Gita crossed the coun­try.

‘‘Last week’s cy­clone has re­ally taken quite a chunk out of the cliff,’’ Ti­maru Dis­trict Coun­cil com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Stephen Do­ran said.

MetSer­vice recorded about 100 mil­lime­tres of rain at Ti­maru’s air­port in the 24 hours from early evening on Fe­bru­ary 20. The storm scoured a num­ber of roads, leav­ing de­bris and sur­face flood­ing in places. South Can­ter­bury coun­cils have been work­ing since Thurs­day to rem­edy these is­sues.

Geral­dine business own­ers on Mon­day were re­lieved to learn Speechlys Bridge on State High­way 79 (SH79) be­tween Fair­lie and Geral­dine has been re­opened to traf­fic.

Do­ran said fix­ing the road to the Patiti Point car park did not look vi­able as it would re­quire re­build­ing part of the cliff. The coun­cil de­cided to close the road, which wasn’t a pub­lic road but an ac­cess route within the Patiti Re­serve, for safety rea­sons. It would, how­ever, re­main open for walk­ers and cy­clists. Peo­ple could still ac­cess the beach on foot but would need to park else­where first, he said.

Do­ran said all roads within the Ti­maru Dis­trict were now open fol­low­ing Gita but mo­torists would need to take care as some, par­tic­u­larly ru­ral gravel roads, would be rougher than usual.

The foot­bridge in Geral­dine was now also open, and all wa­ter schemes were back up and run­ning nor­mally, he said.

The ap­proach to Speechlys Bridge, which crosses the Te Moana River, was washed out on Wed­nes­day. Gita’s ar­rival brought heavy rain which caused many rivers and creeks around South Can­ter­bury to rise sig­nif­i­cantly.

New Zealand Trans­port Agency (NZTA) South Can­ter­bury main­te­nance con­tract man­ager John Keenan said the ap­proach had been re­paired but there was a tem­po­rary speed limit of 50 kilo­me­tres per hour in place.

The bridge re­opened on Sun­day af­ter­noon and the de­tours NZTA had put in place were re­moved, Keenan said.

The Cot­tage Pantry and Gallery owner, and Go Geral­dine board mem­ber, Pauline Den­zey said there had been a no­tice­able de­crease in the amount of traf­fic along Tal­bot St, the main street of Geral­dine, while the bridge was closed.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously num­bers were down. I think you could say that just from looking down the street.’’

There were a lot fewer trucks down the street, which was great, but there were fewer tourists about as well, she said.

Den­zey said on Mon­day morn­ing she hoped traf­fic would pick up again and was re­lieved the bridge had re­opened.

The clo­sure demon­strated how vul­ner­a­ble towns could be to changes such as roads clos­ing, she said.

Go Geral­dine pro­mo­tions co­or­di­na­tor Janene Adams said business own­ers had no­ticed a down­turn last week. ‘‘ We worked to­gether and we put some Face­book posts up to spread the word to let peo­ple know that Geral­dine was still open for business.’’

Go Geral­dine also pro­moted an al­ter­na­tive route which brought mo­torists to the town via SH1. ‘‘It did af­fect us for a cou­ple of days but NZTA did a won­der­ful job of get­ting the bridge re­paired in re­ally quick or­der, so we are back in business.’’


The car park at Patiti Point has been closed to ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic for good af­ter the re­cent storm eroded the cliff below.

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