Foundations for the new Whanganui-Upokongaro cycleway bridge could be constructed before Christmas, Whanganui District Council project manager Rick Grobecker says.

Its prefabricated steel parts were made by Eastbridge in Napier, and are being assembled on trestles in a site cleared for them on Papaiti Rd.

The abutments for the bridge to rest on are being prepared on both sides of the Whanganui River.

On the Upokongaro side the abutment will be concrete with piles while on the Papaiti side the soil is soft and potentially subject to liquefaction.

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The abutment there will be built up from layers of compacted soil, with geofabric between them. It will be faced with rock armour, to protect it from erosion.

The bridge itself is likely to be moved into place across the river in January or February, Grobecker said.

It is 130m long and designed for cyclists and walkers. It's part of the Mountains to Sea Cycleway, and directs cyclists to the west bank of the river for the last few kilometres of their journey to North Mole.

Emmetts Civil Construction won the $2.3 million contract for that piece of cycleway. It includes about 3km of cycle path from the bridge to Flemington Rd and Somme Pde.