Footbridge almost ready for public use

By Sandra Conchie

A new walkway and cycleway along the 86-year-old Matapihi railway bridge is days away from completion and expected to be open to the public in about two weeks.

At a Tauranga City Council meeting earlier this week councillors were told the repairs are almost complete, but an official opening date is yet to be set.

The footbridge was closed to pedestrians and cyclists last October when it was deemed unsafe by council last year after a structural investigation, and renewal work began on October 23.

Tauranga City Council transportation projects manager Robert Holford told the Bay of Plenty Times contractors were working on the final parts of the project, but estimated it would be at least two more weeks before the bridge-walkway could be opened to the public.

"In the meantime, it is really important that people stay off the bridge. It won't be safe to use until all the repair work has been completed, and anyone trying to cross bridge before then is putting themselves at risk," he said.

A full-time security guard had been on site to prevent people walking across the rail bridge.

Mr Holford said the $1.3 million project involved replacing the rusting and rotting old structure, including timber decking, beams and struts as well as the steel supports.

The ramps at each end of the bridge had been reconstructed and the handrails were being replaced with slightly higher ones to meet the Building Act requirements, he said.

"The bridge is an important access route for pedestrians and cyclists between Matapihi and the city centre with up to 200 people using the pathway on the bridge every day."

Council had provided a free temporary shuttle bus service six days a week from Matapihi to Bayfair.

Mr Holford said the project was expected to come in within the final agreed budget.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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