CHB's Rotary River Pathways Trust says it has successfully raised the $150,000 needed to build a swingbridge over the Tukituki River in Central Hawke's Bay to link cycling trails in Waipukurau and Waipawa.
And with only a few remaining hurdles to overcome, trust chairman Roy Fraser hopes it will only be a matter of weeks before the trust gets the final go-ahead to begin construction.
After a "long and arduous" three years of planning, designing and fundraising , Mr Fraser said the trust now had sufficient funds to build the actual bridge.
Clearing work had been undertaken along the banks of the Tukituki, but Mr Fraser said the trust was still a little short of money to build the approaches to the bridge, which would stretch from Mt Herbert Rd in Waipukurau to Tapairu Rd in Waipawa, linking the limesand cycle trails in both towns.
The trust was still accepting $250 donations as part of its '"Buy a Bit of the Bridge" fundraiser, with donors to be recognised with their name on the bridge. But once those costs had been met, Mr Fraser said the only remaining hurdle was gaining final building consent.
"This is not anticipated to be a problem because the bridge has been engineer-designed and the design has been extensively peer-reviewed," said Mr Fraser, who hoped to have final consent approval in the next two to three weeks.
"Our builders are ready to start when they get the go-ahead. It will be about a month to arrange for the supply of materials and components and then about a month to build.
"With a bit of luck it will be ready before Christmas," he said.
As a result of the consent and peer review process, Mr Fraser said the final position of the bridge had been shifted 20m upstream, and the bridge would now be 100m long - 10m longer than originally planned.
Mr Fraser said Centralines had been granted naming rights for the bridge for their "very generous" support.
The trust was also extremely grateful for funding support from the community and CHB District Council - which voted last year to contribute $50,000 from its Esplanade fund towards the bridge - as well as Hawke's Bay Regional Council, which had contributed significantly with in-kind support and would be overseeing construction of the bridge.
Once erected, the bridge would complete the limestone loop on both sides of the river, and would provide access to Gum Tree Farm Mountain Bike Park which was being developed near the end of Mt Herbert Rd.
It would also link the network of 25km of single-track mountain bike trails developed by the trust in the river berms, stretching from Lindsay Bush to Tapairu Rd, and tied in with the developments at Waipukurau's Russell Park.
"The bridge has always been considered to be an integral part of the bigger picture of creating 'The Tukituki Trail', providing a walking-biking asset not only for locals but also a trail that will attract outsiders to our district," said Mr Fraser, adding the use of the trails had already "vastly exceeded" expectations.
Mr Fraser said the trust's Buy a Bit of the Bridge campaign had been a great success, raising more than $30,000.
He recently visited Tikokino School to collect its $250 donation.
"The trust is very appreciative of the kids of Tikokino School, and those of other schools in the district who have also run projects to raise funds to support the trail and the bridge."
Tikokino principal Hamish Natusch said the cycling trails and bridge aligned well with the strong cycling culture at the school, which built its own pump track a year ago.
"The kids are really into their fitness - they love their biking, running and sports. We just thought it would be a great opportunity to contribute to the CHB community," said Mr Natusch about the donation, which was raised by the Tikokino Home and School committee.
People can still buy a bit of the bridge by calling 0275 904551 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org