Today, representatives from the Hauraki District Council, Thames Coromandel District Council, the Historic Places Trust, the Kopu Landowners and Occupiers Association, ‘Save the Kopu Bridge’ group, the Institute of Professional Engineers NZ (IPENZ), the NZ Transport Agency and other representatives of the local community, met in Thames to discuss the old Kopu Bridge.
A number of scenarios were discussed and evaluated by the group, and after considering the advantages and disadvantages of each, two scenarios were identified for further consideration and more detailed investigation.
An independent consultant, who was engaged by the NZTA to ensure that all possibilities for the bridge were impartially considered and thoroughly evaluated, facilitated the workshop.
NZTA regional director Harry Wilson says having an independent person facilitate the workshop encouraged contributions by all of the participants.
“The future of the old bridge is of considerable interest, not only to the local community, but also to national agencies, such as the Historic Places Trust and IPENZ. There have been a wide range of views, with strong advocates for preserving the bridge because of its engineering and historic significance, and equally strong advocates for demolishing the bridge, due to the ongoing costs required to upgrade and maintain it. Today’s workshop has enabled all parties to fully understand the range of options available, and to discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with each,” he said.
No decision has been made on the future of the old bridge, but now that there is agreement with the key stakeholders on the scenarios which they would like to see considered in more detail, more thorough assessments of the implications and likely costs of each will be completed.
NZTA will also be seeking expressions of interest from interested groups or commercial entities that would like the opportunity to present a proposal for the adaptive reuse of the bridge.
"If a business or group has a business case they would like to present, which would enable the bridge to be retained in place for a specific use, they need to start working on a plan. We will be calling for financially viable expressions of interest in the near future," Mr Wilson said.
“When we have evaluated all of the proposals received and competed the detailed assessment of the options, we will reconvene the stakeholder group to advise them of these findings and again seek their feedback. At this stage, we will also make the information publicly available, and seek feedback from the wider community on their preferences for the old bridge. The final decision on what happens to the old Kopu bridge will be made by the NZTA once all feedback has been considered. This is not likely to be until next year,” Mr Wilson said.