People are demanding urgent repairs to Whanganui's rickety looking Aramoho rail bridge before somebody is seriously hurt.

But owner KiwiRail says, while the bridge doesn't look good, it is structurally sound.

Those worried about the state of the bridge point to potholes and large cracks in the footbridge. Loose handrails and rusty bolts are other issues which make it dangerous to cross.

The footbridge is used daily by walkers, runners, cyclists, mobility scooters, skateboarders - and even motor scooters.


Ross Fallen says his dog was injured when its paw became stuck in one of the many gaping holes dotted all across the footbridge.

An early morning walker said it wasn't a stretch to imagine somebody tripping and falling.

"I'm often catching my foot on the uneven surface and I see others doing it, too.

"And with the autumn upon us it won't be long before it ices up in the morning - then it really becomes treacherous."

Mr Fallen and another Aramoho resident, Doreen Hardy, are part of a group calling themselves Friends of the Aramoho Bridge.

They want to a meeting to thrash out not only the safety issues, but also to discuss painting the structure and perhaps adding a mural at the Whanganui East end.

"It's tired and an eyesore and is long overdue for maintenance," Mr Fallen said.

He wants to bring together all parties, including the Whanganui District Council, KiwiRail and community users to reach a consensus on how to address the bridge's state of disrepair.

MP Chester Borrows is trying to arrange a meeting but a date has yet to be set.

KiwiRail's David Gordon said he would be happy to attend and said although the bridge was not aesthetically pleasing, it was sound.

The earliest KiwiRail could repair and paint the bridge would be 2020-21, but even then that date might be extended.

KiwiRail would prefer to get a consolidated community opinion and buy-in, and he said some interim visible improvements could be looked at.

Mr Fallen's priority is the safety of the footbridge which is the Whanganui council's responsibility, and he wants to see repairs inside three months.

A 2016 engineering report of the footbridge identified 24 items requiring maintenance or repair including poor appearance, gaps between timber decking, grass and vegetation growing on the walkway, decayed handrails, poor paint condition, decayed decking, rusted bolts and moss and lichen on the footway surface.

Items were recommended to be addressed between three, six and 12 months and costings ranged between $100 and $1000.

Earlier reports - in 2013 and in 2012 - also identified concerns with the footbridge.
Mr Fallen said no maintenance or repair had been carried out in at least three years since he has been living in Aramoho.

Council legal officer Paul Drake said the footbridge was nearing the end of its life and its replacement or upgrade was due in the near future. The council would apply to the NZ Transport Agency urban cycleway programme for investment for construction in the 2018-21 period.

Once safety concerns were addressed, Mr Fallen said he would like to see KiwiRail repair and paint the rest of the bridge and he has floated the idea of an artists' mural at the Whanganui East end, which spans Anzac Parade.

"Upgrading the bridge visually and repairing the walkway is about renewal and recognising the value of this bridge to users.

"In turn, this adds to the vibrancy and renewal that is taking place across Whanganui," Mr Fallen said.