Ashburton’s Mayor is confident the Government will help the district with a new bridge.
It has almost been a year since the South Island was cut in two during the Ashburton floods. The ageing State Highway 1 bridge was forced to close after it slumped dramatically in the middle, succumbing to the pressure of the relentless floodwaters.
The dire situation added fuel to the district’s argument that a replacement bridge is desperately needed.
Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown attended the same meeting as Finance Minister Grant Robertson this week and believes the Government is now considering backing a replacement bridge.
He said he asked the Finance Minister a question, “Grant does the Ashburton bridge line up in the infrastructure budget you've got, and he said 'Neil it is definitely in there', that was really good news.”
A recent estimate suggested a replacement bridge over the Ashburton River could cost around $40 million. The Ashburton District Council has always proposed that they would pay 20% of that and that the Government and Waka Kotahi would come up with the remaining 80%.
However, the Finance Minister’s office said that while Brown and Robertson did have a discussion about working together on high quality infrastructure projects, no specific commitment has been made on the bridge at this stage.
Waka Kotahi is awaiting the final business case to be completed this year, but is yet to commit to timing and funding of the construction costs.
Locals spoken to by 1News said a new bridge is "long overdue", with one saying the town needs it, having suffered for so long.