Bridge work set to flow once more
Work on the new pedestrian bridge over the Ohinemuri River at the Karangahake Gorge carpark dried up over the last few months but will start to flow again in early August.
Work to build a 70m replacement for the existing 60m suspension bridge began in January this year. The bridge replacement project is a collaboration with Ngati Tara Tokanui, Ngati Tamatera, Ngati Hako, Department of Conservation and Hauraki District Council.
It was hoped the new bridge would be ready for the pitter-patter of pedestrian feet by July, however ground conditions and supplier delays resulted in an unexpected project holiday.
“The good news is, we got the bridge foundations in before winter, which was the critical thing. The rest of the construction is above ground and not such a concern in terms of the weather,” said DOC Senior Works Officer Will Bamford.
All going well, he is confident the new bridge will be complete in early October.
“Details are yet to be confirmed but a karakia will take place to bless and open the new bridge when its finished, then the existing bridge will be removed. We aim to have everything wrapped up by November,” he said.
This will include landscaping work in the area including the installation of a kauri poupou.
“We’re hoping this will be the start of telling more of a cultural story of the area. There is a lot of gold mining history in Karangahake Gorge but there is a very strong Maori history as well.”
The old bridge was originally just a transom built by Hauraki District Council to run a water pipe across the river. In 1995 a new water pipe was put in beneath the river and the redundant transom was gifted to DOC who added a deck and barrier so it could be used for pedestrians.
“It’s perfectly safe but it was never actually purpose designed to accommodate pedestrians, just for infrastructure, which is why it has a ten-person limit,” said Bamford.
Hauraki District Mayor John Tregidga said the area currently attracts about 80,000 visitors annually.
“It’s the busiest visitor site in our District and the numbers will only increase as more people discover what a great place this is, so it’s important we ensure we can continue to provide safe and appropriate access into the future,” he said.
The new bridge will have an unrestricted pedestrian load.