New walkway to town nears completion

By John Cousins

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A new walkway and cycleway is little more than a month from opening along the side of the old railway bridge that links the city to Matapihi.

It will replace the rusting and rotting old structure that was considered so unsafe that the council last year imposed strict restrictions on its use and prioritised repairs worth $770,000.

A competitive tender by Fulton Hogan, boosted by an additional $370,000 of contributions by Government agencies, took the project from a comprehensive upgrade to a totally new structure.

Council communications adviser Meagan Holmes said the decking for the new ramp at the city end of the footbridge was finished and the pathway had been completed along eight of the bridge's 14 spans.

Minor repairs to the main bridge and work on installing the handrail were also underway.

The contractor worked over most of the 10-day Christmas break and the pathway was now expected to be completed towards the end of February. It will nearly double the width of the footbridge along some sections to 1.5m wide.

A full-time security guard was on site to prevent people walking across the rail bridge, with a temporary shuttle bus service for Matapihi residents operating to Bayfair. The footbridge was used by about 500 people each day including cyclists as a shortcut to town from the coastal suburbs.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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