Builder’s barney over bridge work

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An experienced bridge builder believes walkers will face dangerous conditions once a road bridge in Arthurs Point is widened. 

Arrowtowner John Mowat has criticised the project to alter the layout of Gorge Road at McChesney Creek. 

Queenstown Lakes Dis­­trict Council is currently replacing the one-lane bridge with a two-lane bridge, and straightening the tight bends on both approaches. 

Mowat says the decision to retain an existing parallel footpath bridge, lower than the road, will see pedestrians showered with stones, as well as ice and snow in winter. 

Council project manager Lane Vermass says he has taken a second look at the layout since Mowat raised his concerns. 

Vermass remains con­fident the distance between bridges is enough to ensure pedestrian safety. 

Mowat says: “It is just going to be horrendous. 

“In winter they will be spraying cold water and ice and dumping snow off their roofs as they take that corner quickly – at treble the current speed. 

“Some muppet from the hysterical society, sorry Historical Society, found the remains of an old bridge some time ago. 

“They put a pedestrian bridge on top of the old foundations and now they say you can’t disturb the old foundations,” Mowat says. 

“I’ve raised bridges before and they could do it, or swap it for another one.” 

Builder Mowat, who has constructed and restored three bridges near Arrowtown, says funding could be obtained from the Queenstown Trails Trust. 

Vermass says: “The existing walkway, which is the heritage bridge, is fine. 

“We’ve been briefed to use that. It’s far enough from the two-lane bridge not to be a problem. 

“I’ve looked at it again with the engineers and we’ve all come to the conclusion there is absolutely no risk. 

“It is lower but far enough away for there to be no interference whatsoever. It is 4.2 metres from edge to edge, with the creek chasm in between. 

“Obviously we’re also concerned with safety and comfort,” Vermass says. 

Workers from civil contracting company Fulton Hogan are currently working on the site. They are also improving the footpath approaches to the bridge.