Tuesday 29 January 2013

One block of Estuary Road

We're a month from the two year anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake. SCIRT, the road infrastructure repair agency, endeavors to repair each street in one go, when it's able to. Here is the story of our 500-metre block of Estuary Road since February 2011. Some roads on the east side of town are far worse; others have fared better.

April 2011, work started for replacing a pumping station. We were very glad to be able to use our toilets again.

They closed up the roads and traffic was back to normal. For about three weeks if I recall correctly. Then, they opened everything up again to replace the sewer line. We thought they were done, then they opened it up again because they'd installed at the incorrect depth. The project ran from early July 2011 until June 2012: they were just shy of the one-year mark. Our road enjoyed very limited access for the duration. For a good part of that winter, it was a one-way cul-de-sac with a Jersey wall at the end. We raced toy wooden boats in the sump water that ran along the side of the road.

Work began again late November 2012 to replace the storm water drains. I'm sure there's some good reason why this wasn't done in the prior round. They closed the road up for the Christmas break, then opened it up again to continue the job after Christmas, for which I thank them. The notice here says work began 7 January; that was when work resumed after a month of works before Christmas. I'm not sure why the pre-Christmas works are not noted. They hope to be done late March.

On a rough count, this five hundred metre section of road has been in normal service for about 8 of the last 24 months. We are grateful that at all times we have been able to access our driveway. But we also wonder whether one guy with a single shovel, and a bit of forward planning and determination (and maybe a hoist to get the heavier pipes in and out), couldn't have had the whole thing finished by now.

Repairs to the Bridge Street Bridge began in August 2012 - shortly after repairs to Estuary Road took a hiatus. The bridge's current one-way flow adds 10 minutes to our evening commute. It will be like this for a year. Pages Road through Bexley, the recommended alternative as it provides the next river crossing to the north, is in very poor shape and is also under ongoing repair. When repairs to Bridge Street Bridge began, simultaneous work on Pages Road made for a minor disaster. That has eased, but repair work on Pages still seems to be necessary. I had expected that more might have been done to make this road serviceable before a detour doubled its traffic load.

SCIRT rejected alternatives of:
  1. One-way outbound in the morning; one-way inbound in the afternoon (sensibly - it's an evacuation route for tsunami).
  2. Placing temporary traffic lights so that cars could take turns. I'm sure they had a good reason for it, but I have not seen it adequately explained. This would be especially appropriate on evenings and weekends when traffic is exceedingly unlikely to back up to Dyer's Road.
The diverted commute up Pages Road through Bexley continues to take us past abandoned, boarded up, and heavily tagged former homes, and some that are still occupied. The old retirement apartments on Anzac Drive are gutted and exceptionally heavily tagged. I hope that they are soon demolished. Eyesores appear in the east faster than they are torn down. We stopped on our way home a fortnight ago to call the fire department about a (hopefully abandoned) house on Admiral's Way where flames were licking through the roof. I expect that the gutted shell will be there for a while. 

The kid's play fort at the South Brighton park that was hit by arson last Christmas has recently been replaced by a Flying Fox. I am glad they replaced that part of the former park. Large sections of the park remain fenced off due to trees in danger of falling over. A pleasant walking trail through it has re-opened; the pier remains fenced off. The community centre that once housed the neighbourhood toy library is currently under demolition. There's a big sign warning against site entry because of asbestos. There are no noticeable tarps covering anything on the site; dust blows, depending on the wind, into the playground of the South Brighton Elementary School, across the street from our house. I trust that the asbestos is contained, or that medical technology will have progressed such that new lungs can be printed on demand in thirty years' time. South Brighton Elementary School is due for merger with Central New Brighton School. We are placing our children at Ilam school, right next door to the University, to add 45 minutes to my working day rather than to avoid the merger process. But I fear that if consolidation closes the facility across the street, the buildings will be abandoned and left to ruin rather than converted to parkland or put to other purpose like so much else in the East.

Quality of life on the east side of town remains in need of improvement. Aucklanders weary of Christchurch whinging are invited to rent a car in Christchurch and drive the neighbourhood around Kia Ora St.

No such problems exist near the University; students considering Canterbury can effectively ignore that the east side of town exists.

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