The design of a new $6.5 million cycle and walkway bridge across the Wairoa River is poised to become a major drawcard for the region's tourism once completed in 2018.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council announced the design for the 'iconic' bridge - a key part of the Omokoroa to Tauranga Cycle Trail project - at a special gathering in its council chambers this evening.
Designed by architect firm Warren and Mahoney, the design features a curved, single span bridge with no piles in the water and a "spectacular" arch about 40 metres high at mid-point.
The council's deputy chief executive and infrastructure manager Gary Allis said the idea for an iconic bridge across the Wairoa River came in the initial development of the Omokoroa to Tauranga Cycle Trail.
The project came to life when Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust came on board with a $1m grant, he said.
Mr Allis said concepts from four companies were invited for the design competition and the winning design was chosen from a panel of judges made up of key project partners and tangata whenua.
"We knew an iconic structure would attract more than just cyclists - our vision is to have a bridge that becomes a tourist attraction, contributing to the region's amenities and economic development.
"We were looking for a unique creation, something that could be enjoyed by current and future generations. We're confident this bridge will do just that."
The bridge has an estimated cost of about $6.5m. Construction is expected to begin in July and take about 12 months.
Minister for Transport Simon Bridges, who spoke via video link at this evening's presentation, said the bridge would have huge benefits for the region's tourism and for the health and lifestyle of residents.
"I'm incredibly excited about this stunning design for the Wairoa Bridge.
"It's going to be an a real drawcard in relation to overall an amazing cycle trail from Omokoroa to Tauranga for locals, commuters and tourists both throughout New Zealand and around the world.
"I'm incredibly proud to be one of the local members of parliament involved in this and to be the Minister of Transport that's helped to get the Omokoroa to Tauranga cycleway underway - one of the most significant in New Zealand outside of the main centres."
TECT chairman Bill Holland said the board wanted to see something special and that was what had been delivered.
"The words iconic and wow have all been used - personally I was wowed and stunned at this project.
"When you get people collaborating together as has happened here you're going to finish up with something pretty special."
Lou Gates of Ngati Kahu said this design was the only concept without any feet in the water.
"That was huge for us as tangata whenua. We are so happy with it. The arch is almost representative of our famous mountain Mauao."
Western Bay of Plenty District Council was pleased to announce the New Zealand Community Trust had become a major supporter of the Omokoroa to Tauranga Cycle Trail.
Trust chief executive Mike Knell announced a $1 million grant to support the construction of the cycle trail this evening.
The 19km cycle trail was clearly supported by both Western Bay and Tauranga councils, TECT, the NZ Transport Agency and the community, he said.
"The cycleway meets the trust's purpose of supporting sport and recreational opportunities," he said.
"The grant is a contribution towards the Omokoroa section of the trail, and the two new bridges from Omokoroa to Plummers Point and Jess Road to Newham Rd."
Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber said the grant was a significant contribution towards the project and one that recognises the benefit of the cycle and walkway to the whole community.
The Omokoroa to Tauranga Cycle Trail, once complete, would provide a link to between the growing township of Omokoroa and Tauranga City's existing urban cycleway network.
The project had been accelerated by the Government's Urban Cycleways Programme.
Key funders include: NZ Transport Agency ($3.8m); NZ Government ($1.5m); Western Bay Council ($1.52m); Tauranga City Council ($400,000); TECT ($1m); NZCT ($1m); Tauranga Round Table ($100,000); and Omokoroa Community Board ($60,000).
The plan is to have the full Omokoroa to Tauranga Cycle Trail open by mid-2018.