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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 8 (February 1, 1933)

Bridging the Canterbury Rivers

Bridging the Canterbury Rivers.

Owing to the failure to raise loans on the London market, and to a reduced revenue, there were no funds available for capital works. On the funding of the Canterbury loans certain unexpended balances and released sinking funds became available, and the Superintendent was able to submit to the Council proposals for the appropriation of £35,000, which sum he suggested should be divided as follows:—

For the Northern Railway, £15,000.

For the Southern Railway, £15,000.

For the Southbridge Tramway, £5,000.

The Southern Railway, to the Rakaia River, was already laid out, and it was thought funds would accrue that would provide for the continuance of the work at such a rate of progress as would ensure its completion by the time the bridge over the river was ready for traffic.

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For the Northern Railway a sum of £30,000 had previously been voted, and with the addition of the £15,000 proposed it was thought that the work might be commenced and carried to a point at which it would greatly benefit the residents of the Northern district. With the vote for the Southbridge line, which it was at first proposed should run from Selwyn via Leeston to Southbridge, the Superintendent thought there would be little difficulty in inducing private capital to undertake the construction by offering the contractors £5,000 and guaranteeing them the receipt of the tolls for a period of years at a fixed rate.

A contract for the construction of the bridge over the Rakaia River had been let on a similar principle. The contractor was to be paid £10,000 and authorised to collect the tolls for the use of the bridge for a term of years. The bridge was to be for both road and rail traffic. The contractor was William White, who had previously built a toll bridge over the Waimakariri River at Kaiapoi, under a similar guarantee.

In view of the successful negotiation of the Rakaia contract it was proposed to call for tenders on the same principle for
In the days of the Canterbury Broad Gauge Railway.(From the W. W. Stewart Collection.) Christchurch Station about 1863.

In the days of the Canterbury Broad Gauge Railway.
(From the W. W. Stewart Collection.) Christchurch Station about 1863.

bridging the Rangitata, and it was hoped that course would leave a balance out of funds already appropriated for that bridge, which could be devoted to the erection of a bridge over the Waitaki, It was proposed that steps be at once taken to ascertain the cost of the land which would require to be purchased for the North line, which, as surveyed, passed through some valuable sections, and the Council was asked to consider whether an alternative route could with advantage be adopted. A line taken by way of the Canal reserve would require the purchase of only 21 acres 2 roods as against 66 acres by the western route. The re-purchase of private land for public purposes was a very serious consideration owing to the enormously inflated prices demanded.