People passing on State Highway 4 are swivelling their eyes westward towards cranes and the arch of a new bridge rising up in a paddock on Papaiti Rd.

The arch of the bridge is complete but still needs stiffeners, Whanganui District Council project manager Rick Grobecker said.

The abutment for the bridge on the Papaiti side is being built - but has been held up by rain. The concrete abutment on the Upokongaro side hasn't been started yet.

"Launching" the bridge across the Whanganui River is likely to happen in late January or February.

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It could be moved across by huge cranes, or on tensioned wires. But Grobecker is guessing the contractor, Emmetts Civil Construction, will float it across using a barge.

"They will have worked out the most efficient way," he said.

The single span network arch bridge is similar to one Emmetts won a prize for in Waikato. It will be 130m long and 2.4m wide, with its concrete decking laid when it is in place.

It's part of the Mountains to Sea Cycleway. The full cycleway link from Upokongaro to Flemington Rd is costing $2.3 million and is due to open in April.