Grand Canyon Bridge open­ing fixes dan­ger­ous road ero­sion

Manawatu Guardian - - NEWS - By STEVE BIELSKI Po­hang­ina Val­ley li­ai­son coun­cil­lor.

What a priv­i­lege to be part of the his­toric open­ing of the Grand Canyon Bridge on the Po­hang­ina Rd.

The Oc­to­ber 24 open­ing was or­gan­ised by the Manawatu¯ Dis­trict Coun­cil in con­junc­tion with lo­cals.

This part of the road, which had a cul­vert to take a small creek un­der the road, was be­com­ing very prob­lem­atic and dan­ger­ous.

The sheer cliff where the water falls down into the Po­hang­ina River was erod­ing the edge of the road away when an east­erly wind blew water onto the road caus­ing the edge to erode.

Our ex­pe­ri­enced road­ing man­ager Jim Mestyanek and his team went through all the op­tions to find a so­lu­tion.

Widen­ing the road into the hill wasn’t an op­tion be­cause of the un­sta­ble na­ture of the soil, so the only op­tion was to build a bridge. That wasn’t go­ing to be cheap and an NZTA sub­sidy would have to be ac­cessed.

But to get to that, an in­depth busi­ness case study had to be pre­sented to NZTA to jus­tify the 53 per cent sub­sidy.

With all the pro­duc­tion com­ing along the road and fam­i­lies liv­ing be­yond the bridge, the need for an al­ter­na­tive road was re­quired if the East Po­hang­ina Rd was closed.

The coun­cil was suc­cess­ful in get­ting just over half the cost of the bridge paid for by NZTA. The NZTA sub­sidy was nearly $700,000.

The open­ing was run by in­fra­struc­ture man­ager Hamish Waugh, with speeches from lo­cals, Mayor He­len Wor­boys, Steve Bielski, and those who de­signed the bridge.

It was heart­en­ing to hear the words of Janelle Port on how MDC, es­pe­cially Jim Mestyanek, com­mu­ni­cated what was go­ing to hap­pen when the road was closed. It’s amaz­ing what can be ac­com­plished when there is open com­mu­ni­ca­tion and all help­ing one an­other. To com­plete the day ev­ery­one was in­vited to af­ter­noon tea.

An ap­pli­ca­tion for the funds to carry out pos­si­ble re­place­ment of the Man­gaweka Bridge was made to NZTA on Septem­ber 3 fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment of the Na­tional Land Trans­port Pro­gramme on Au­gust 31.

Once ap­proved, Ran­gi­tikei and Manawatu¯ Dis­trict Coun­cils will pro­ceed with the pre-im­ple­men­ta­tion phase for con­struc­tion of a new 132m long steel-plate girder bridge, 30m down­stream of the ex­ist­ing bridge, on the ba­sis that the ex­ist­ing bridge will be de­mol­ished.

The phase will in­clude de­tailed de­sign, prop­erty ac­qui­si­tion and con­sent­ing.

The Ran­gi­tikei and Manawatu¯ Dis­trict Coun­cils will make the fi­nal de­ci­sion on the fu­ture of the ex­ist­ing Man­gaweka bridge af­ter re­ceiv­ing feed­back from af­fected par­ties.

FARM­ERS Janelle Port and fa­ther-in-law Rod Port with MDC Mayor He­len Wor­boys at the open­ing of the Grand Canyon Bridge.

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