James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Explosive suggestion for old Kopu Bridge

Long holiday queues were often seen at the bridge. File photo / Dean Purcell
Long holiday queues were often seen at the bridge. File photo / Dean Purcell

Blow it up, use it as an attraction on the national cycle trail or demolish it and keep parts of it for a museum - these are among the ideas touted for the old Kopu Bridge.

The New Zealand Transport Agency is calling for expressions of interest from public and commercial operators to reuse the old one-way bridge near Thames that was decommissioned late last year.

The move follows a meeting to discuss the future of the old bridge, held in Thames last month, when it was decided to investigate the adaptive reuse of the bridge or the creation of a bridge feature museum.

A Thames business owner said there was a simple solution: "Easy, just blow it up. People were moaning for years to get a new bridge, which we did, and as soon as we got it, people started saying, 'Oh, it's historic'. But it's ugly, it's done its dash and we really don't need it."

But Kim Buchanan of the Save Kopu Bridge group wants the 463m structure retained for pedestrians and cyclists.

However, she conceded the cost to maintain the bridge was high.

Thames Coromandel Deputy Mayor Peter French said the district council was open to options but its bottom line was there should be no extra burden on ratepayers.

The bridge, which remains closed to the public, has sat unused since December, when a $40 million two-way bridge was completed and opened - much to the relief of drivers who previously had to queue for more than an hour or take detours during holiday weekends.

Expressions of interest must be received no later than 5pm on Friday, October 5.

- NZ Herald

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