Some action is finally on the horizon for the Upokongaro cycle bridge.
Whanganui District Council has identified March 25 or the week of April 5 as dates that would be suitable for the launch of the bridge, with Emmetts Civil Construction to re-establish machinery, materials and staff at the Papaiti and Upokongaro sites in the coming week.
Council chief executive Kym Fell said possible launch dates had been discussed with "affected parties" while a variation to the resource consent and finalisation of an easement for the project are being finalised.
Under the Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Settlement) Act, the riverbed over which the cycleway bridge will be placed is vested in Te Awa Tupua, so an easement is required to be issued by Te Pou Tupua to the bridge owner, the council. This function was previously the responsibility of the Commissioner for Crown Lands.
Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui kaihautū (chief executive) Ray Hall said the resource consent and easement are close to being finalised amongst the hapū, Te Pou Tupua and the council.
"The parties have agreed to the re-establishment work proceeding in order to achieve the desired launch window," Hall said.
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Fell said the two windows of time were chosen because of favourable tide conditions.
Historical records indicate that river and weather conditions beyond mid-April are unfavourable.
The process will involve preparation for road closure at Papaiti with the public, commercial operators and emergency services receiving at least two weeks' notice.
State Highway 4 at Upokongaro will not be closed during the launch.
There will be restrictions for Whanganui River users, with Maritime New Zealand and local river users to be contacted, and there will be meetings with the Upokongaro and Makirikiri communities.
A plan for public safety will be developed, anticipating the public interest in viewing the bridge launch. However, Fell said the launch could be live-streamed so it can be safely viewed by the public.
The opening date for the bridge has not been confirmed.