Manawatu River bridge plan cops flak

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - JA­NINE RANKIN and RICHARD MAYS

What is it about Palmer­ston North and bridges?

Af­ter decades of prom­ises, pro­pos­als and pre­var­i­ca­tions it fi­nally looks like a sec­ond city bridge across the Manawatu River is about to hap­pen.

OK, so this bridge won’t take ve­hi­cles, its site is not on any of the orig­i­nal op­tion lists, and the fallen tree-in­spired de­sign is cre­at­ing con­tro­versy, but apart from that, it’s all sweet.

Plans for the new 190-me­tre long, four span cy­cle and pedes­trian bridge to be built near the Hol­i­day Park camp­ing ground at the end of Ruha St, were un­veiled at a meet­ing last Wed­nes­day, July 13. The con­cept is a tree fall­ing across the river with its ‘‘roots’’ on the Massey side, the trunk form­ing the bridge, and the canopy and branches fall­ing in a land­scaped pat­tern.

Several who turned up to the Riverdale School Hall in Slacks Rd for the an­nounce­ment ex­pressed anger that the Ruha St op­tion had not been part of pre­vi­ous con­sul­ta­tion ses­sions around three other no­ti­fied down­stream op­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to City Net­works gen­eral man­ager and steer­ing group chair­man Ray Swadel, two of those orig­i­nal op­tions, near Pi­tama Rd and near Maxwells Line, had been re­jected be­cause they had less com­mu­nity sup­port and were more ex­pen­sive to build. The third orig­i­nal op­tion was at Katene St off Dittmer Dr near the end of Botan­i­cal Rd.

400 me­tres up­stream from Katene St , Ruha St is quite lit­er­ally down as ‘‘Plan B’’, and last week’s an­nounce­ment has cre­ated huge dis­cus­sion on Neigh­bourly and Face­book.

‘‘Too close to the ex­ist­ing bridge’’ is a promi­nent theme. Park­ing con­cerns in a quiet sub­ur­ban area and the nar­row­ness of Ruha St are other con­cerns.

Swadel said the views of res­i­dents would be con­sid­ered be­fore a fi­nal rec­om­men­da­tion was pre­sented to the city coun­cil’s plan­ning and pol­icy com­mit­tee on Au­gust 1.

Part of the $10m He Ara Ko­tahi link from Fitzher­bert Bridge to Massey and Lin­ton, $3m will come from the Gov­ern­ment’s Ur­ban Cy­cle­ways Pro­gramme, with another $3.2m from the Na­tional Land Trans­port Fund.

What do you think of the bridge plans? Join our dis­cus­sion on neigh­bourly.co.nz/pub­li­ca­tion/the-tri­bune

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

An im­pres­sion of the pro­posed cy­cle and foot­bridge look­ing south down Dittmer Dr with the head of the ‘‘tree’’ con­nect­ing to the shared river­side path and to Ruha St.

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