West Coast storm: Concerns raised about bridge before it collapsed

Westland locals raised concerns about the safety of a bridge in the area just a week before it collapsed.

The one lane Waiho Bridge near Franz Josef fell apart in front of onlookers on Tuesday, due to severe flooding underneath it.

Westland Mayor Bruce Smith told The AM Show on Thursday the community raised concerns about the bridge long before it was destroyed.

"They were saying if we get a flood that bridge is going to go and this wall that you've allowed us to put up, the gravel wall, is going to wash away.

"It's been washing away and it's so frustrating, this has been going on for seven years."

New Zealand Transport Agency spokesperson Colin Hey told Newshub on Wednesday the bridge was an important link for the community.

"That particular link is vital and we realise how important it is and we'll be doing everything we can to get it reinstated as quickly as possible."

Smith echoed his sentiments later that day, saying the bridge had cut off not only tourists, but members of the community too.

"There are substantial dairy farms on the south side of the Waiho River, so you know it's how we operate, it's how we live," he said.

He told The AM Show on Thursday the community can handle losing the bridge, but is mourning the loss of one of its own.

Sixty-six year old Gloria Reardon-Hirst was found dead on Wednesday, washed up in the Arahura Valley. It's believed she was swept away in the floodwaters.

"I mean we can handle the loss of assets, but the loss of life is just terrible," Smith said.

The bridge is expected to be replaced in the next week to 10 days.


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