Anger over Tsunami foot bridges bungle

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The bizarre sight of tsunami evacuation footbridges sitting unfinished and unusable has become a topic of scorn among Papamoa residents since construction stopped months ago.

One of those who tried to get an explanation was Calypso Drive resident Kay Harris who lives close to where one of the bridges straddles the Wairakei Stream.

Eventually she contacted Mount councillor Wayne Moultrie who raised the issue at a council meeting this week. But he also failed to get an explanation and was instead promised an email.

Mrs Harris was at the bridge yesterday morning where a couple of men were pricing the cost of building the missing abutment needed to connect the bridge to her side of the stream.

"It seems bizarre that you can build a bridge and call it a tsunami evacuation bridge, but it sits for months waiting to be completed."

The bridge closest to her home has sat unfinished for three months while the other bridge nearest Shaun Close had sat without both the abutments needed to link it to the ground since before Christmas.

Mrs Harris said the unfinished bridges were not a problem so long as there was no tsunami, but if one did strike and people died trying to get across the stream then the council would be in the gun.

The footbridges, built to sit above 100-year flood levels, were meant to provide escape routes for residents fleeing the low-lying suburb on foot. The council has so far spent $61,000 of the $190,000 budget for the bridges, with several more planned to be built. Council city parks manager Marie Gordon said they were waiting to receive quotes for the abutments. The issue with the abutments arose as construction of the bridges was taking place. "It became evident that the pricing of the abutments needed to be reconsidered."

Ms Gordon said there had been an error in the way the abutments had been priced. She refused to comment on whether the fault lay with the council or the contractor. She said there had been no contract conflict.

Papamoa Progressive Association chairman Steve Morris said people were incredulous that the bridges had been sitting there for months half finished.

"It does not make sense to have these things high and dry."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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