Cycling link would help

The old Oamaru Creek bridge. Photo: Hamish MacLean.
The old Oamaru Creek bridge. Photo: Hamish MacLean.
The Waitaki District Council could avoid a budget blowout for the planned replacement of the Oamaru Creek pedestrian bridge by committing to developing a cycle trail north of the bridge.

The council committed to a new budget for the replacement pedestrian bridge of $112,000 this month, if it could attract NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) funding.The old pedestrian bridge was demolished at a cost of $20,000 at the end of January last year, after it was condemned in December 2014.

A $50,000 timber suspension bridge found favour with the council and became part of last year’s annual plan, but council assets manager Neil Jorgensen said yesterday the original cost estimate was based on inland bridges and was "far too light and didn’t take into account being by the sea".

"When the project is actually go, you get a more robust price and, unfortunately, in this case it was much more."

For example, "a more serious grade of stainless steel" than anticipated would be required for the fittings.

A council project "on the books for quite a while" to join the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail to a cycle route further north, linking to the cycle route, known locally as "the bike track", to Waitaki Boys’ High School could make the project eligible for NZTA co-funding.

"That bridge is quite a key part of that route," Mr Jorgensen said.

The council had signalled it would include a project to extend that cycle route further north for consultation in the next, 2018-28, long-term plan.

The development of the route that could connect the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony to the Railway Yards, to be discussed for the next long-term plan, could cost $430,000.

"There are even plans, hopefully, at some stage to go right out to Pukeuri," he said.

The community would be consulted through the long-term plan process.

At the May 10 council meeting, Cr Colin Wollstein said the pedestrian bridge was an important part of  making Oamaru more cycle-friendly. The council report to the assets committee in April states NZTA funding would require "evidence that work on the route extension will be progressed".

The cost to council for the bridge would be $51,520, with NZTA covering the rest.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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