Black ice forces closure of footbridge

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Frosty conditions have forced the closure of Lake Tekapo’s footbridge only six months after it was officially opened.
The bridge has previously had other hold-ups.
It was closed to the public for two weeks after the official opening ceremony in December 2016 as finishing touches were required to meet a code of compliance.
The bridge, which cost just over $2 million and took over six years to complete, arches over the outlet of Lake Tekapo, and is designed to create easier access for pedestrians walking between the town centre and the Church of the Good Shepherd.
It was funded by a combination of private and public contributions, and the Lake Tekapo Footbridge Society played a key role in its development.
However, black ice has presented problems in recent weeks and the Mackenzie District Council has agreed to pick up the cost of surface treatment to make it safe for pedestrians during frosty conditions.
In his report to the asset and services committee, Mackenzie District Council asset manager Bernie Haar said ice on the footbridge was causing issues.
‘‘The arch has a maximum gradient of 16% and any ice on it creates a safety hazard,’’ Mr Haar said.
Contractors had been forced to close it on occasion and were looking at various options to make it safe, he said.
‘‘We always knew there would be issues with snow clearance for bigger [snow] events, but there is equally as much concern with the light snowfall and frost.’’
Mackenzie District Council chief executive Wayne Barnett said the facility needed to be usable and having it closed was not good.
‘‘We have not finalised the cost. It is generally closed in frosty conditions and we are making sure that we manage the situation,’’ Mr Barnett said.
‘‘If the bridge is deemed dangerous, we are closing it.
‘‘We are looking at surface treatment for it.’’
Lake Tekapo Footbridge Society member Chris MacLaren said she was aware of the situation.
‘‘We do know about it. It’s black ice and it has been a bit slippery. We are looking at signage and we are standing by the Mackenzie District Council.’