Council to part fund bridge replacements

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Ashburton District Council (ADC) will contribute up to $233,000 towards the replacement of the bridge on Mount Possession Station and the same amount for another bridge on Inverary Station.

Both bridges were swept away during recent flooding, but ownership of them has remained unclear for many years.

Neither are recorded on ADC’s asset register.

Funding for the replacement bridges will be loan funded for up to five years.

At a Zoom meeting last week most Ashburton District councillors were in favour of moving forward with the request from Mount Possession Station owner Donald Whyte.

Mr Whyte told councillors that three generations of his family had farmed Mount Possession Station since 1980 .

The high country station ran sheep, cattle and deer.

Attempts to resolve ownership of the bridge had been attempted in 2005 and again in 2012, but had been unsuccessful.

He said in the last 12 months there had been 200 truck trips from two properties across the bridge and he welcomed the support from council in resolving ownership and moving forward with a replacement bridge.

The total cost of the bridge replacement is estimated at $700,000 and Mr Whyte told councillors he had insurance of $200,000 to help with his two thirds share of the cost.

Councillor Angus McKay said it was a messy situation at Mount Possession Station which could now be resolved.

Take the offer and do it, he said.

It would mean council did not have to pay for a full bridge and would be released from any future maintenance.

He was supported by councillors Lovett, Wilson, Rawlinson and Braam with just councillors Cameron and Falloon keen to delay a decision while the details of a historic report were digested.

The total cost of the Blands Bridge on Inverary Station is $350,000, with the station owner paying a third and then taking over full ownership and future responsibility.

-By Mick Jensen