The old Kawarau Falls Bridge. Photo by ODT.
Maintaining the single-lane Kawarau Falls Bridge so
cyclists, pedestrians and utility services can continue using
it once the new bridge is built could cost $50,000 annually and
the Queenstown Lakes District Council could be responsible if
it decides to take ownership.
A report to be discussed at this morning's infrastructure
services committee outlines the council's fears that if the
bridge falls into disrepair it might not be able to host
utility services such as power, gas, water and sewerage, or
be used by cyclists and pedestrians.
The report recommends the council negotiates an arrangement
with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
''that may entail [the] council acquiring the bridge''.
However, acquiring the bridge could expose the council to
expensive maintenance bills. In particular, it is likely
$500,000 is needed within 20 years to have the bridge beams
Another option is to not acquire the bridge nor to lease it,
and the third option is to lease the bridge pathway and
carriageway, which would enable the council to opt out of an
arrangement if it found the costs unsustainable.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has indicated a new
bridge is likely to be constructed between 2015-18 and
construction could take two years.
At present the existing bridge is owned by the Ministry of
Business, Innovation and Employment and leased to the NZTA
for $1 a year, but the agency is responsible for the bridge's
''The ministry is an unwilling owner of the bridge and its
commitment to its ongoing availability for utilities,
cyclists and pedestrians is uncertain,'' the report said.
''The ministry `inherited' the bridge because it is a dam
structure and has a historic places trust listing.''
The ministry has not suggested that it would allow the bridge
to fall into disrepair but ''as a key utility provider and a
supporter of the Queenstown Trails Network, there is a
responsibility on [the] council to seek the continued
security of access to the structure.''
An engineering report commissioned by the council said the
bridge beams would need to be repainted within the next 20
years, annual maintenance could be $50,000 and it could cost
$132,500 to bring the bridge up to such a standard that the
council would agree to ownership.
The NZTA says adequate walking and cycling access is provided
for on the proposed new bridge so retention of the old bridge
is not essential.
The report recommends the committee negotiate an agreement
with the ministry to secure the availability of the existing
bridge for utility services, cyclists and pedestrians and for
it to agree in principle to ownership transferring to the
council if the benefits outweigh the cost of transfer and
The council's infrastructure general manager Erik Barnes said
agreeing to the two recommendations does not commit the
council to any costs but allows it to open negotiations.