New approach to re-using Kurow bridges

Oamaru Steam and Rail Society general manager Harry Andrew inspects sections of the original...
Oamaru Steam and Rail Society general manager Harry Andrew inspects sections of the original Kurow bridges, now at Oamaru Harbour. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Plans to utilise a pair of sections from the original Kurow bridges may still go ahead, albeit in a slightly different form from what was originally proposed.

In 2014, two 133-year-old single-lane, wooden structures were demolished and replaced with two modern two-lane bridges spanning the Waitaki River as part of a $20.1million New Zealand Transport Agency investment project.

Some sections of the old bridges were used to create a display about the history of the bridges on Kurow Island, while other sections were allocated to the Waitaki District Council and Waimate District Council, to use as they saw fit.

Some of those sections have been used to create seats in Kurow's main street, and to fill gaps around the Waitaki district's roading network.

Two sections are in Oamaru and stored near Friendly Bay.

In 2016, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said he wanted to see the section used for "a bit of a display", preferably in the harbour area.

The idea, in conjunction with the Oamaru Steam and Rail Society, was to lift a section of the society's track, install the bridge sections and then place the line back on the sections so its train could pass through them.

Oamaru Steam and Rail Society general manager Harry Andrew said he still backed the idea, with one key change.

"What I would like to do is put a concrete pad down instead of having the wood on the ground. The idea would be to have it so the train still runs through it, but on a support mechanism."

He said ideally the bridge sections would be bolted to the concrete pad opposite the carved macrocarpa trees, which meant there would be no need to lift any part of the track.

With support from a working group, similar to the one that worked on the Phoenix Mill water wheel restoration project, Mr Andrew was confident the project could go ahead.

"I think by doing this its not going to effect any council development, because it's in the rail corridor."

Mr Kircher said the council's priority was to get through the Oamaru Harbour master plan process before any project went ahead, but hoped to see it happen at some stage.

"That feeling of going over the bridge ... we can recreate that with Oamaru steam and rail involvement, so the opportunity is there."

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