The suspension bridge over the Tauherenikau River, proposed by the Greytown Trails Trust. GRAPHICS/GERAD TAYLOR

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz

Wheels are fully in motion for Greytown Trails Trust’s ambitious plan to build a suspension bridge over the Tauherenikau River.

Chairman of the trust Shane Atkinson confirmed that an application for a share of the government’s $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund was submitted yesterday for the project.

The proposed bridge, estimated to cost about $600,000, will provide a safe and pleasant cycle link between Greytown and Featherston.

It will have a span of 130 metres, steel towers over 17m high, and will be braced off the existing rail bridge that run parallel to it.

Atkinson said he should know before the end of the year whether the application was successful.

The fund was introduced by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.

The trust has applied for $70,000 to cover costs associated with feasibility, design and exact costings of the project.

Atkinson said the application fit the criteria, so he was quietly confident that things would go to plan.

“By the end of June next year, we should have absolutely everything — a complete set of contract documents, a set of designs, and consents.”

The trust has indicated in its PGF application that it will be subsequently requesting funds for the construction.

“On the face of it, if the feasibility meets their criteria, and the thing comes out feasible in the design phase, then they should fund the complete project — well, that’s the hope.”

If the trust’s PGF application was declined, other funding agencies and lotteries would be approached.

Atkinson anticipated the bridge’s construction to take about six months, and to be a relatively straight forward process — thanks to KiwiRail, which has granted permission to have the bridge braced of its rail bridge piers.

He said the proposed bridge was very long and in a position that copped strong winds regularly.

“Bracing it against the wind back to the [river] banks was just going to be a nightmare.

“But to brace it off the rail bridge simplifies both the design and maintenance enormously.”

Atkinson said the bridge would be heavily used by locals and visiting cycling and rail enthusiasts alike.

“It’s going to be a physical and social connection between Featherston and Greytown . . . and we also expect it to show huge economic benefits, simply because it will provide an attractive weekend destination for Wellington cycle groups.”

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