GRAPHIC/GERAD TAYLOR

HAYLEY GASTMEIER

hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz

A $500,000 proposal to build a suspension bridge over the Tauherenikau river will delight both rail enthusiasts and cyclists.

The Greytown Trails Trust is behind the ambitious plan to have the 152m bridge erected by 2021, which will allow cyclists a pleasant and safe link between Featherston and Greytown.

It will have a span of 130m and steel towers over 17m high — almost as tall as Masterton’s Departmental Building.

It will be braced off the existing rail bridge that runs parallel to it, about 7m downstream.

Greytown Trails Trust chairman Shane Atkinson said fundraising was expected to come from a “combination of sources”, with the trust currently exploring whether the plan met the government’s regional development fund requirements.

The proposed bridge would slot into a bigger scheme by the Five Towns Trail Trust to link the five Wairarapa towns over a 55km cycle trail.

The feasibility study has been completed, and the trust has permission from the owners of private land on each side of the bank on Underhill Rd.

Greater Wellington Regional Council river engineers have approved the initial bridge design.

KiwiRail has also granted permission to have the bridge braced off its rail bridge piers.

The trust is now trying to determine the project’s exact cost and the next step will be fundraising before construction begins.

“It will take three years to get it up and running from now, that’s the expectation.”

Mr Atkinson said the suspension bridge would be another attraction drawing tourists to Wairarapa.

“It will provide a local amenity link for locals between Featherston and Greytown.”

He said cycling up State Highway 2 between the towns was “very unpleasant” and risky.

This would be a family friendly route, he added.