Second stage of city pipeline upgrade has begun

The next phase of work on a critical infrastructure project –  to ensure the people of Invercargill and Bluff continue to have access to clean, safe drinking water – has started.

Invercargill City Council Programme Director Lee Butcher said the Branxholme Pipeline Upgrade would replace the city’s existing ageing main freshwater line, which connected the water treatment plant at Branxholme to the Gala St water tower.

Once completed, the project would replace more than 10 kilometres of pipeline. The first phase of the project, which began in mid-2022 and was completed earlier this year, saw 3.7 kilometres of the new pipeline installed, he said.

“The sheer size of the project, and its complexity – navigating several busy city thoroughfares, a light industrial area in Waikiwi, part of the state highway network, and even crossing under the Waihōpai River – makes this one of Invercargill City Council’s major infrastructure projects,” he said.

“It’s been a big job already, but we’re really getting into the thick of things now.”

Rooney Earthmoving had been awarded the tender to complete the remainder of the project, he said.

“Rooney’s are one of the most highly-regarded civil engineering firms in the South Island, and we’re really pleased to have partnered with them on the Branxholme Pipeline Upgrade,” he said.

The contractor arrived on-site at McIvor Rd on Monday, and is expected to be in the area for about 15 working days, he said.

For safety reasons, some traffic restrictions would be in place on McIvor Rd while the work is undertaken. This would include the closure of McIvor Rd to all road users, with the exception of residents, and members of the community wishing to access Anderson and Donovan Parks.

Because of the soft ground conditions on the shoulders of the road, there was no provision to temporarily widen lanes to continue to provide access for road users.

The road would be closed during work hours only (6am – 7pm). The road would be open, under temporary traffic management (which may include measures such as single lane access, traffic lights, or speed restrictions) when work was not being undertaken.

Traffic restrictions would include:

  • State Highway 6-McIvor Rd intersection: Road closed, resident access only.
  • Retreat Rd-McIvor Rd intersection: Access limited to residents and Anderson Park users only
  • Donovan Park access onto McIvor Rd: No left turn. Resident and Anderson Park access only.
  • Anderson Park access onto McIvor Rd: No right turn. Resident and Anderson Park access only.

The contractor would continue to liaise directly with residents to ensure they were fully informed of what the traffic restrictions meant for them. A rural school bus operator had also been advised, and will use Retreat Rd instead while this work was carried out.

Work on McIvor Rd is expected to continue until the end of September.

The Branxholme Pipeline Upgrade would then continue through to Donovan Park, Bainfield Rd, Myers St and into the Waikiwi Reservoir in Myers Reserve later this year.

Stage three of the project would begin in the new year. The project would traverse parts of the city centre – via Gala, Kelvin, and Herbert streets – before making its way to residential areas in Gladstone, a light industrial area in Waikiwi, and finally Myers Reserve, Butcher said.

The Ōreti River is the sole source of water for Invercargill and Bluff, which is drawn from the awa at the Branxholme water treatment plant just north of the city. The water is supplied through pipelines originally installed in 1958. The existing pipeline had come to the end of its natural lifespan, and had experienced several failures during the last few years, he said.

“It’s well and truly time to look to the future, and replace the existing network with one that is modern, resilient, and able to provide our community with a clean and healthy water supply for generations to come,” he said.

The project is scheduled to be completed in late 2024.

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