North Waikato river ride bridge ready to open

North Waikato News - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - CAITLIN WAL­LACE

It’s been five years in the mak­ing and Thurs­day, the Te Awa Great River Ride Perry Bridge will open to the pub­lic.

The bridge lo­cated south of Nga¯ru­awa¯hia is part of the Te Awa Great River Ride and will al­low pedes­tri­ans to ac­cess a 70 kilo­me­tre cy­cle­way which stretches along­side the river all the way to Ho­ra­hora.

Its name comes from the Brian Perry Char­i­ta­ble Trust which con­trib­uted $500,000 to­wards it.

The 130m long and 3m wide bridge fea­tures a flax weav­ing in­spired de­sign with the colour blue to sig­nify the Waikato River and green to link in with its nat­u­ral sur­round­ings.

Gen­eral man­ager of the trust, Jen­nifer Palmer, said the bridge was about bring­ing the com­mu­nity to­gether through its de­sign and con­tri­bu­tion from res­i­dents.

‘‘We try to get the lo­cal com­mu­nity to see it as their bridge,’’ she said.

Stu­dents from Horotiu School and Nga¯ru­awa¯hia High School came up with de­signs which have been turned into mo­saics by Waikato glass artist Tracy Os­borne.

Those mo­saics were set to be in­stalled in the next few weeks, Palmer said.

Palmer is hop­ing those who took part in the mo­saic de­sign process will be some of the first to walk across the bridge af­ter the rib­bon-cut­ting on Thurs­day.

Signs were also set to be in­stalled to tell the sto­ries of his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance as well as the bridge-build­ing process, she said

The event will also be about cel­e­brat­ing the open­ing of the 8km Nga¯ru­awa¯hia to Horotiu sec­tion.

While this sec­tion and the bridge go­ing were to be as­sets for lo­cals and avid cy­clists, Palmer pre­dicted a growth in tourism for the area with the Ha¯kari­mata track and now the bridge.

‘‘We try to get the lo­cal com­mu­nity to see it as their bridge’’

‘‘Hope­fully this is a cat­a­lyst for more tourism.’’

And it ap­pears peo­ple are start­ing to re­alise that with newly cre­ated busi­nesses.

‘‘There’s quite a few bike oper­a­tions start­ing to sprout up.’’

Palmer en­cour­aged peo­ple to tap into that mar­ket as well.

Kick­ing off Thurs­day’s event will be a bike pro­ces­sion from The Point led by Te Awa Char­i­ta­ble Trust trustee Sarah Ulmer at 3:30pm. Fes­tiv­i­ties will be held at the Nga¯ru­awa¯hia Golf Club with food, spot prizes and bike demon­stra­tion be­fore the rib­bon-cut­ting at the bridge.

The five win­ners of the de­sign a hel­met com­pe­ti­tion will also be given their prize of a bike and a hel­met with their de­sign on it.

The cost for the cy­cle­way stretch was about $4.7m – of which about $2.7m was funded by NZTA.

The rest had been made up from con­tri­bu­tions by the Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil, the NZ Com­mu­nity Trust, Lion Foun­da­tion, Trust Waikato, WEL En­ergy Trust, Perry Group and Brian Perry Trust, Tril­lian Trust and Grass­roots Trust. Palmer said the next step will be the Hamil­ton to Cam­bridge sec­tion.

CAITLIN WAL­LACE/STUFF

The bridge fea­tures the colours blue as a rep­re­sent­ing Waikato River and green to tie in with the nat­u­ral sur­round­ings.

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