Cycle bridge opens in time for summer
Published on December 02, 2020
Whanganui’s Upokongaro Cycle Bridge opened to the public this afternoon, with a ceremony attended by invited guests and members of the local community - and officiated by Mayor Hamish McDouall, Te Pou Tupua Turama Hawira and kaumatua John Maihi.
The purpose-built cycle and pedestrian bridge spans the Whanganui River, from the small riverside settlement of Upokongaro to Papaiti, linking to the city’s 50 km/h limit on the Aramoho side of the river.
The project is part of the Mountains to Sea – Ngā Ara Tūhono trail, which begins in Ohakune and continues through National Park to Whanganui, ending at Castlecliff’s North Mole.
The Mayor said it was wonderful to see children from Upokongaro School taking part in the opening ceremony and involved in the first official crossing from Papaiti to Upokongaro.
He said the bridge opening was good news for tourism and visitors to Whanganui – bringing economic benefits to the district.
“The thing I really like about this is that it promotes tourism and experiences based on healthy activity and appreciation for the outdoors. Whanganui is New Zealand’s most beautiful small city and is known for its spectacular natural features. Travelling by bike is good for you, good for the environment and a great way to enjoy our cycle-friendly district.”
He added, “This is great for visitors and equally for locals. I do ask people though to refrain from doing the loop along State Highway 4. With current speed settings on the highway it isn’t the best place to be on a bike.”
Mayor McDouall recognised the significant funding contributions of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (50%) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment ($600,000) towards the bridge and also thanked council officers, the project team and the Upokongaro and Papaiti communities for their participation.
“I acknowledge that it has taken us a while to get here,” he said. “Our process for consultation needed to improve and we have had to work to remedy that. There certainly is still work to do and we will ensure we follow through on our commitments in the interests of the people and the environment of this place.”