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The Bridge on the River Avon

1 August 2022

Opened in 1929, the Carlton Mill Bridge spans the Ōtakaro Avon River at the intersection of Carlton Mill Road, Harper Avenue and Park Terrace, and carries nearly 30,000 vehicles every day.

Citycare Property Project Manager Mike Okey has just finished overseeing a full refurbishment of the 93-year-old bridge, which included repairs to surface cracks, replastering and repainting.

Citycare Property Project Manager, Mike Okey, shares some of the challenges and wins he and the team experienced while working on the Carlton Mill Bridge restoration project

“The bridge is plaster over concrete so we basically had to inject all the plaster surfaces, which had largely become dissconnected from the substrate, and then undertake replastering of the surface coating of most of the bridge. As a final measure, we applied specialist paint systems that are designed to stop water ingress while allowing the substrate to breathe.”

After 93 years, the Carlton Mill Bridge required some much-needed intervention. The Citycare Property team, along with some specialist contractors, have restored the bridge to its former glory.

Caring for the environment as well as our community infrastructure

The project was not without its challenges, one of the biggest of which was to ensure that no paint particles got into the river during the water blasting process, as it was not known what was in the paint and there were concerns that it could have been toxic to the local eels, fish and wildlife.

The team employed a specialist cleaning process that included ‘plastic wrapping’ the scaffolded work site and placing specialist filter cloths along wastewater collection points then suctioning water at the collection points as they were water blasting. The work sites were also fitted with plastic roofing so that the project could continue rain or shine.

Gone is the yellow colour scheme, replaced by a more appropriate scheme using specialist paint systems designed to stop water ingress, ensuring the bridge will continue to look good for years to come.

The health and safety of the team, as well as sub-contractors and the public, was paramount throughout the project to ensure it was delivered safely and on time and budget.

“Around 28,000 cars cross the bridge every day, so we had to use some very careful systems to allow staff to work on it comfortably and safely, while also not costing the client an absolute fortune in traffic management,” says Mike. “Luckily, the vast majority of the work, 80%, has been to the external faces and underside of the bridge, which the team was able to carry out from within the canopied scaffolding.”

Project management experts

On the occasions where work was done on the roadside faces, this was carried out at night with minimal disruption to the public, allowing the project to proceed in a timely manner, ensuring the team delivered the project within the 12-week deadline. 

“Project delivery went really well. The public loved being able to see the progress and on numerous occasions came up to the guys to share their appreciation for a job well done. The feedback has been roundly in favour of the new colour scheme and the way it's lifted up the bridge — surely seeing it into another century.”