$1million TECT grant for iconic new bridge

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Tauranga Energy Consumers Trust (TECT) is making a funding grant of $1 million for the construction of an iconic walkway and cycleway bridge across the Wairoa River.

The bridge was a key component of the approximate $8 million Omokoroa to Tauranga cycleway project.

This was one of a number of sub-regional links which formed the Western Bay and Tauranga City Cycleways Programmes, supported by the NZ Transport Agency and was part of a $17 million package of cycling and walking projects to be rolled out in the region over the next three years.

In 2015 the Omokoroa to Tauranga route was included in the Government's $100m Urban Cycleways Programme.

This programme was designed to take full advantage of all funding sources, including local government, the National Land Transport Fund, and organisations such as TECT to enable high-quality projects to get underway much sooner than may otherwise have been possible.

The Wairoa bridge project would be managed by Tauranga City and Western Bay District councils. The councils made a joint funding application to TECT late last year.

The bridge would be located upstream of the existing state highway bridge and would link into Taniwha Place.

The concept was for a single span bridge approximately 106m long and three metres wide.

The application to TECT was for a structure that will be an attraction in its own right as well as a functional way to travel across the river away from motor vehicle traffic.

A design competition was proposed in order to ensure an 'iconic' structure was achieved.

Community consultation and iwi engagement would be key aspects of the project planning phase, as would an application for resource consent to build the bridge.

Once consent had been achieved construction would begin. This was expected to take place from 2017 and be completed the following year.

Both councils consulted on cycleways through their Long Term Plan processes and received widespread public support for these initiatives.

The Omokoroa to Tauranga walkway and cycleway would benefit residents throughout the route and was expected to function as a recreational asset, commuter route and tourist destination.

TECT Chairman Bill Holland said the organisation was excited to support the bridge construction project as it will deliver inter-generational benefit to a wide cross section of consumers.

"This is quite literally a project that links Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty and will open up many opportunities for exploring our beautiful district."

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Ross Paterson said the project was another example of the two councils working collaboratively with TECT for the benefit of the community.

"The route will be used by a range of individuals and groups - including commuters, school pupils, along with recreational and competitive cyclists and walkers. Any initiative that helps people get more active more often, safely, has got to be a good thing."

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said the new link would be an exciting addition to a fast-growing region.

"The new bridge and the completed Omokoroa link will be invaluable for Tauranga City and the Western Bay, both as a tourist attraction and as a strategic addition to the urban cycle network."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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