It’s Not Just Infrastructure Stupid Part 2 – Bridges

This is the second in an occasional series of posts on cycling related matters. See Part One here. Some of the same issues then are repeated. While it is about infrastructure, it reflects on an underlying culture of staff employed to carry out the rebuild.

This time it is about bridges.

1) Antigua St Bridge was in the news recently with the fanfare around its long-awaited re-opening. It is more than a year behind schedule and well over-budget. It has to be said CERA / SCIRT have never been in a hurry to get it fixed.

Surface of the bridge

Surface of the bridge

Some little known history – in 2011 CERA invited CCC to provide a list of 10 cycling projects they’d like done. It was in the Bob and Tony era and not surprisingly they failed to respond. Spokes Canterbury took up the challenge and at the top of the list was doing something about this bridge.

Antigua St Bridge is the most used cycle infrastructure in the city. Now it is open many will be relieved since the hospital made things even more difficult with the partial closure of their bridge that we used as an alternative.

The traffic calming features of the previous bridge such as the wooden decking and raised footpaths haven’t been retain so it will be interesting to see what happens. It cannot be finished, can it?

Now the smooth tar-sealed surface is crying out for some fool to race across and go too fast. It is an accident waiting to happen.

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2) Armagh (Park) St Bridge and main entrance to North Hagley Park is closed from 4th May 2015 for 24 weeks to repair earthquake damage. It will remain open for people walking and cycling but closed to vehicles. See here… http://strongerchristchurch.govt.nz/work/activity/6818

North Hagley Park Armagh St Entrance

North Hagley Park Armagh St Entrance

The closure means cars are unable to access the Botanic Gardens car park so a temporary access road from Riccarton Ave has been created. This access road uses part of the shared walking / cycling path that goes between Victoria Lake to Riccarton Roundabout.

SCIRT kindly gave reps from interested parties a guided tour to explain what they intend to do. They were very helpful.

Guided Tour

Guided Tour

Their original plan was to introduce chicanes and barriers to restrict people walking and cycling to give Right of Way to car drivers. Instead of using the main thoroughfare we were to share a narrow 0.5m wide existing path, plus everyone is to observe a maximum speed limit of 10k/hr.

Protests were made about the general car-centric focus of their plans and especially to exclusively inconvenience existing users for the benefit of motorists. As discussions progressed they agreed to give priority to existing users.

If temporary traffic management staff are present they will be expected to make vehicles give way.

When the bridge has been repaired everything will be returned to the original condition.

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3) Carlton Mill Bridge is for people walking and cycling only and located in Little Hagley Park. This bridge is also closed on 4th May for replacement and is out of action for 6 months. See here… http://strongerchristchurch.govt.nz/work/activity/6788

No alternative has been provided in contrast to the abovementioned non-essential alternative for car parking access to the Botanic Gardens. Instead SCIRT recommends a detour via Helmores Lane Bridge through the creepy, shadowy Millbrook Reserve. After sundown this is a dangerous place and with the long dark cold winter nights just round the corner…..

Never mind that several hundred young girls from a nearby school use Carlton Mill Bridge, as well as the usual trickle of local residents.

Carlton Mill Footbridge 2015

Carlton Mill Footbridge 2015

It would be interesting to hear the rationale.

I say nothing about the failure to consult the public on the design of the replacement structure, apart from it having the hallmarks of another Victoria Square.

And it’s not as though SCIRT haven’t the expertise to install a temporary bridge….

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3) Gayhurst Road Bridge has a temporary footbridge nearby while the main road bridge is replaced. Such a structure is perfect for a temporary Carlton Mill Bridge. The footbridge here looks like it provides easy access for staff working on the bridge.

Temporary Gayhurst Footbridge.

Temporary Gayhurst Footbridge.

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4) Dallington and Medway Footbridges are downstream of the Gayhurst Bridge on the lower reaches of the Avon. Both have been removed and there is no sign of any replacements.

Medway Bridge in 2011

Medway Footbridge in 2011

Medway Footbridge in 2015

Medway Footbridge in 2015

Dallington Footbridge in 2011

Dallington Footbridge in 2012

Dallington Footbridge in 2015

Dallington Footbridge in 2015

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6) Porritt Park Foorbridge once straddled the exit of an old bend in the Avon River at Kerr’s Reach but was damaged in the earthquakes. It was a popular route for people going along the river. The damage didn’t look serious and it crosses a narrow and shallow channel. Requests were made by Spokes Canterbury for an alternative such as a pontoon bridge.

Porritt Park Footbridge 2015

Porritt Park Footbridge 2015

Officials not only declined the request they removed the bridge. Presently the public have to take a substantial detour if they want to continue along the river bank.

Fulton Hogan are resident in Porritt Park. A company that is more than capable of building something suitable.

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In conclusion: collectively factors around all these bridges add up to a lack of respect for the public who wish not to use vehicles. It is not really any surprise that the city has major problems with traffic congestion. It is in part self-inflicted by the narrow focus on one failed solution.

2015 is the Year of the Rebuild. It is the year when almost all anchor projects are underway. If we are really going to transform into a city built for people and not cars, then it has to start now.

After all this time and all we have been through, failure to change is not an option.

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  • francesnovember
    4 May 2015, 3:54 pm

    There is a lot here that is just unhelpful carping and conspiracy theory – and I cycle every day to work.This is completely wrong: “I say nothing about the failure to consult the public on the design of the replacement structure, apart from it having the hallmarks of another Victoria Square.” In fact Carlton Mill footbridge was fully redesigned after people living nearby approached the community board in 2013 upset that the original replacement design was not good enough. The CCC is currently facing a massive rates increase and selling off of assets, so these nice to do projects are just that nice to do – which of us is going to double their rates to pay for temporary bridges? And it is not as if you can argue that roads are all smooth, it is still faster and more fun to get around this city on a bike than in a car at rush hour.

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