The bridge at Bridge Road (Birchville, Upper Hutt) collapsed at approximately 11:00am on Thursday (29 October) morning isolating households and interrupting localised services.

Upper Hutt City Council’s Asset Management team has worked with engineers and local emergency services to better understand the cause of the bridge failure and to restore the services severed by the collapse. These teams have also completed initial assessment of alternative access to the Birchville community isolated by the bridge collapse, and are now preparing for the works required to widen a track to make it usable for these residents, which is expected to begin tomorrow. Residents are urged to avoid using this track until these works are completed, as its narrowness and the machinery involved may be a hazard.

The initial work to make this track accessible is expected to take a week, with residents able to use it with the support of the track contractors. Sealing of this 900m track will then follow, allowing for single lane traffic, controlled by traffic lights. This sealing should be completed in 2-3 weeks.

While assessment of the bridge continues to be hampered by the high volume of water in the Akatarawa River, it is expected that a complete rebuild may be required. Independent specialised bridge engineers will be involved in this process, investigating the collapse and its causes, and advising Council in the process of rebuild or repair.

The bridge, which remains slumped but standing, poses a serious risk for anyone attempting to cross it, as its stability is unknown. Should the bridge fully collapse, services which have been restored would be severed again and anyone on or near it could be at serious risk of injury.

Council is continuing to work with local agencies and the community to better understand the needs of residents and what support is needed and where. Council’s welfare support team has been inundated by offers of support from the community, although only a few residents have requested assistance. Given how close-knit the Upper Hutt community is, it is expected that most people displaced by the incident have spent the night with friend or family in neighbouring suburbs.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW – Latest Update:

  • The bridge at Bridge Road has collapsed, cutting off around 70 properties.
  • The bridge stability is unknown and no-one attempt to cross it; to do so may cause a full collapse and pose a serious risk of injury.
  • It is important that people do not attempt to cross the river at any stage.
  • A track has been identified as a viable alternative access route. Work to make this track accessible begins on Saturday and it is expected that residents may be able to use this by the end of next week, with the support of contractors. Sealing of this track is expected in the next 2-3 weeks, making the track usable for single-lane traffic only. Any residents attempting to use this track should take extreme caution due to the heavy machinery in operation.
  • Due to this collapse, water and gas services were severed; however water has now been restored. Residents are advised to continue boiling water until further notice. There is no indication of any sewage leakage in to the river.
  • Council’s welfare team is available to assist residents displaced or otherwise impacted by this incident. Residents can access this support on (04) 527 2169
  • Residents within the affected area are advised to stay at home. Check your emergency supplies, and help out your neighbours.
  • Check the Upper Hutt City Council website and Facebook page for further information and regular updates.

Released: 30 October 2015
Released by Upper Hutt City Council