Work starts shortly to widen and strengthen the Factory Road bridge over the Orari River near Temuka.
Earlier this year the NZ Transport Agency approved funding for the Timaru District Council to carry out this work.
The single-lane, 1960 bridge will be widened to two lanes at a cost of $3.29 million, of which the Transport Agency will provide $2.07 million under the Funding Assistance Rate (FAR).
The work will greatly improve access along this section of the road, particularly for milk tankers travelling to the Clandeboye Dairy Factory, says the Transport Agency’s Regional Planning & Investment Manager Bruce Richards.
With current use of the 173-metre long bridge being controlled by traffic signals, there are delays and journey times are made longer than necessary.
Up to 1400 vehicles use Factory Road each day during the summer months, of which 35 per cent are heavy vehicles. Factory Road is the main access for the Clandeboye Dairy Factory.
“This work future proofs the bridge for other freight options and maximises load capacity on a key Canterbury route, which will lead to direct efficiency gains for industry as well as economic benefits for the local community,” Bruce says.
One of Fonterra’s largest sites, Clandeboye processes up to 13.2 million litres of milk per day. This equates to more than 40 per cent of all milk collected by Fonterra in the South Island, making the site home to New Zealand’s largest liquid-load-carrying fleet of trucks.
The National Freight Demand Study 2014 forecasts continued strong growth in Canterbury as more land is converted to dairying.
Canterbury currently produces over 2 billion litres of milk each year; this has grown 72 per cent since 2006/07, while Otago produces just less than 1 billion litres of milk each year with growth of 42 per cent since 2006/07. This will place more pressure on the road network and existing fleets and drivers - so saving them time on the road by making fewer trips to move more freight and not having to wait at busy one lane bridges will make a real difference and ensure future productivity gains.
The Transport Agency has worked with local councils, freight producers and road transport industry representatives around the country to identify key end-to-end freight routes.
“These high volume freight routes include local road access to and from places like Clandeboye that produce or receive high volumes of freight and make a significant contribution to the local and regional economy. Moving this freight on HPMVs will produce economic and safety benefits that will provide greater opportunities for local and regional economic growth,” Bruce says.
The project is expected to take 18 months to complete.