The fate of the old Whirokino Bridge over the Manawatū River is in limbo as transport bosses consider whether to continue with demolition plans.
Initially the bridge was to have been "deconstructed" now that a new adjacent bridge had opened, although those demolition plans were now on hold.
Waka Kotahi director of regional relationships Emma Speight said it was currently reviewing its position on retention of the old Manawatū River Bridge.
"We have paused the planned deconstruction of the bridge and are looking into the possibility of a consent variation to retain the bridge, however no final decisions have been made," she said.
"There are still a number of complex issues to work through before we are able to make a decision on whether to proceed with the deconstruction as planned or to retain the bridge."
Speight said the initial decision to deconstruct the bridge had been made following discussions with the public and stakeholders, including local authorities and iwi.
"Waka Kotahi considered current and future usage, the bridge's structural integrity, immediate upgrade costs, consent conditions, future maintenance costs, and future ownership," she said.
"We are continuing to engage with councils, iwi and other affected groups while we work through the process of reviewing our decision and will provide an update to the community as soon as we can."
But Manawatū Power Boat Club commodore Bayden Sprozen said their club wants to see the old bridge gone as it was jeopardising major events.
"It's a big problem," he said.
Sprozen said the club's annual Gold Cup Regatta held every March and April was "the largest and most prestigious" of its kind in the southern hemisphere and in the past had attracted boats from USA, Canada and Australia.
The old Whirokino bridge had three six metre diameter concrete supports that were buried deep beneath the river bed, while the new bridge had the same amount of concrete poles.
The problem was that while the river at that point was "about 95m wide", neither of the bridge's poles aligned, creating a situation where boats racing at speed were now confronted with twice as many obstacles.
It had doubled the risk.
"It's eaten up water space ... boats have hit them in the past," he said.
The two-day Gold Cup Regatta was an open event that attracted formula one, supercharged, super charge V8 class, and any form of race boat that was eligible tunnel and drag boats, with some reaching speeds of 230km/h.
Sprozen admitted the club was coming from a point of view of self-interest, but said the potential for staging significant events on the stretch of river was huge.
This year was the 50th anniversary of the Gold Cup Regatta and the club had also been given the go-ahead to stage another major event involving speed skiing.
The endurance ski race had the potential to bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to the local economy, but it was doubtful it would go ahead as planned while the old bridge remained, he said.
Sprozen said skiers would come from near and far to team up with boats. He said it was realistic to expect 100 boats to enter, each bringing support crews.
"It will be an amazing spectacle. The river has such beautiful turns in it. It's an undiscovered New Zealand maritime gem," he said.
The planned 25km course would run from the Foxton end of the Manawatū River upstream to Shannon, with boats towing two skiers expected to reach speeds of 160km/h.
"To be frank, we just can't do it with two bridges. It's just too dangerous ... you run out of room real fast," he said.
"We are going to have to modify it and think about how this race is going to be run.
"But I'm not prepared to hang my hat on it until the old bridge is gone."
Sprozen said retaining the old bridge had financial implications for the club. Initial consultation had led him to believe the old bridge was coming down as soon as the new one was operating, and the club had planned events accordingly.
He said there was a 1km straight stretch of river certified for speed records and there were no other options up or downstream. It wasn't a question of being able to shorten the course, either, as boats needed space to speed up and slow down.
"It's the longest stretch of river we can use for the course," he said.
Meanwhile, as a long time user of the river, Sprozen said it had noticed a marked increase in water quality in recent years, which he believed was a credit work being done by regional council Horizons.
"You can see flounder on the bottom now," he said.
Meanwhile, Horizons regional councillor Sam Ferguson is one of a number of recreational cyclists pushing for the retention of the old bridge, citing limited room on the new bridge as being extremely dangerous for cyclists.
Demolishing the old bridge would also take away the only alternate route across the river, he said.