by Helen Holt
South Canterbury is in recovery mode after the damaging floods of early last week.
Infrastructure in the Timaru district got a beating, with many roads, bridges and drinking water supplies still being assessed.
The bridge in Seaward Rd, and one large culvert in Slacks Valley Rd in Pleasant Valley were damaged beyond repair.
Ten bridges in the district had or currently have the approaches washed out or other significant damage.
The Winchester Hanging Rock bridge over the Opihi River has speed and weight restrictions in place.
Of the 112 bridges inspected, 50 have large debris build-ups and are still being assessed for further damage.
Timaru District Council communications adviser Elizabeth Mullan said the council was still evaluating the scale of the damage.
“Bridge structures are expensive to replace and maintain and we are not in a position yet to advise cost of damage to the network,” she said.
“We have six weeks to get an estimate in for emergency funding from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, and it is likely that we will need a lot of that time to assess and cost out the damage to the bridges.”
Farm Rd (Orari) and Hall Rd (Taiko) are still closed, as well as Silverton (Arundel), Pit (Rangitata), and Tait (Woodbury) roads which were badly scoured.
Geraldine and Te Moana were on boil-water notice, but Geraldine’s boil-water notice had since been lifted.
Waimate District Council communications officer Sam Morton said the district was very lucky.
There had been temporary road closures on Hakataramea Pass, and boil-water notices in Hook-Waituna that were lifted on Friday.
“We seriously dodged a bullet. We’ve been very lucky we didn’t get the weather to the scale that Timaru and Ashburton did.
“We had our emergency team on alert, but they didn’t get any callouts.
“Everything in Waimate is basically business as usual.”
The Ashburton bridge on State Highway 1, which was closed last Tuesday, was now open for most vehicles.
NZ Transport Agency southern media manager Frances Adank said the bridge still had limitations for heavy vehicles.
“The Ashburton River/Hakatere Bridge has a few caveats on the types of vehicles that can use it currently.
“Trucks and heavy vehicles are only allowed on the bridge from 7am to 7pm. The speed limit is 30kmh 24/7, and overweight permit vehicles and over-dimension permit vehicles have to take a local road choice for the time being.”
The railway line between Timaru and Ashburton is closed due to three bridges requiring repairs.
KiwiRail South Island operations general manager Mark Heissenbuttel said the teams were working hard to restore the railway lines.
“Repairs to flood damage on the Midland line (Christchurch to Greymouth) were completed over the weekend and the line reopened on Sunday morning.
“The work included clearing eight slips.
“Work on the main south line between Ashburton and Timaru continues, and is expected to take some time. It includes repairs to three bridges.”