The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is inviting people to have their say on the future of the old Kopu Bridge at a public meeting in Thames next week.
The meeting will be held on Thursday 29 November 2012 at 7.30pm in the Thames War Memorial Civic Centre, 200 Mary Street; Thames. Following a presentation about the process undertaken to date and the options for the bridge, NZTA staff will be available to answer questions.
NZTA Regional Directory Harry Wilson said the NZTA called for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the old Kopu Bridge in September.
“We were seeking proposals from groups or businesses that would reuse the bridge in its current location, preferably with public access. We wanted information relating to future ownership of the bridge, funding and details of reuse. The request for EOIs attracted considerable interest and we received nineteen responses,” he said.
Of the responses received, eight supported re-using the bridge, though not necessarily in its current location. Of the eight submitters supporting re-use, two wanted it to be used for walking and cycling; one wanted it to be used solely for walking; two wanted it to be used as part of the National Rail Trail; one wanted it to be relocated to Northland to replace two existing one-way bridges on State Highway 12; one wanted it moved to lie along the eastern shore of the Waihou River to be used as a fishing platform; and the last submitter simply stated that they wanted the swing arm left open.
“Unfortunately none of these submitters indicated how their proposals would be funded and no commercial proposals for reusing the bridge were received. We are currently working with two of the submitters who provided proposals to reuse the bridge in its current location to see what can be done to progress their proposals,” Mr Wilson said.
The other 11 submitters all specifically stated that the old bridge should be demolished, with eight of the eleven supporting retaining the swing arm on land in some way.
The NZTA also commissioned a Reuse Options Report which detailed the likely costs if the bridge was to be re-used, and this was provided to everyone interested in submitting an EOI.
The cost estimates given in the Report were based on actual examples of other recent competitive tenders for State Highway bridge repair, inspection, repainting and maintenance contracts. These contracts were compared and averaged to ensure accurate costs were generated for the old Kopu Bridge.
Mr Wilson said the NZTA cannot continue to fund any future maintenance or upgrade of the old bridge, as it is no longer required as part of the State Highway network.
“The public meeting is a chance for the NZTA to make the information we have publicly available and to seek feedback from the wider community on their preferences. The final decision on what happens to the old Kopu Bridge will be made by the NZTA once all feedback has been considered. This will not be until next year.”
In the meantime, the old Kopu Bridge remains closed for access to the public, but the swing span continues to be operated to enable boats to traverse the river channel.
More information is available on the NZTA website(external link).