Funding reallocated to prioritise bridges
Published on June 29, 2023
Whanganui District Council’s operations and performance committee has voted to reallocate funding to move ahead with two Whanganui bridge projects – the Aramoho pedestrian bridge and Erni’s Bridge in Kauarapaoa Road.
The council’s transportation manager, Damien Wood, says the Aramoho pedestrian bridge is an extremely well-used bridge – with yearly pedestrian counts of 91,874 and cycle counts of 34,726 based on 2019 figures – but the surface and structure don’t meet Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s safety specifications.
“This work will involve replacing the Aramoho pedestrian bridge so it’s wider and can easily accommodate all bikes and mobility scooters,” Damien Wood says. “Currently some mobility scooters can go over the bridge, but not others.”
Reallocating funding means the Aramoho pedestrian bridge can be started this year and completed by July 2024.
“We’re aware that a number of schoolchildren traverse the Aramoho bridge to get to and from school,” Damien Wood says. “During the construction period the bridge will be closed and people will need to take an alternative route or means of transport – but we know the community wants us to get on and do this and the end result will be a bridge that everyone can access.”
Work has started on procuring a contractor, with council engineers asking for registrations of interest.
The other bridge fast-tracked for replacement – Erni’s Bridge in Kauarapaoa Road – is deteriorating rapidly and is in a key location.
“When the lower culvert at the start of Kauarapaoa Road washes out – as we saw in the December 2021 rainfall events – Erni’s Bridge provides the only access to Kauarapaoa Road. It’s an essential piece of infrastructure not only for residents but also for trucks transporting logs from Kauarapaoa Road forestry blocks to Whanganui distribution hubs and wider regional distribution hubs.
“Travelling by alternative routes is not a viable option because they’re significantly longer and the extra traffic volumes would put pressure on other parts of our roading network, requiring more maintenance.”
He says the team is well-advanced in the process for Erni’s Bridge, with contractors ready to do the last of the geo-technical work. The project will go out for tender before the construction season starts this year.
“Originally funding to complete all four bridges was secured in late 2021,” Damien Wood says, “but as with other projects around the country, we’ve faced inflation and construction industry cost fluctuations. This has affected our ability to deliver all of our capital works projects in 2023 and 2024 so we’ve had to rationalise the funding.”
Funding for the Aramoho pedestrian bridge will be reallocated from the City Bridge clip-on project, while funding for Erni’s Bridge will be reallocated from Wakefield Bridge in Whanganui East.
Damien Wood says the next bridge to be replaced will be the Wakefield Bridge, which is expected to be delivered within the next three years.
“With the reallocation we still have funding to advance the Wakefield Street Bridge to the detailed design stage in the 2023/2024 financial year so we’ll progress that, and when we reapply for funding later this year it will be for a shovel-ready project.”
He says discussions with Waka Kotahi about further funding for Wakefield Bridge have been favourable.
Meanwhile there’s funding to take the City Bridge cycleway and walkway clip-on to the concept design stage.
“Part of this work will involve consulting with the community and working out the real cost of delivering it.
“Waka Kotahi has a strong interest in supporting cycling and walking projects so we’ll be looking to see how we could maximise Waka Kotahi funding for the City Bridge clip-on.”
These projects are 60% funded through Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s ‘Low Cost, Low Risk’ programme.