New swing­bridge re­quired

CHB Mail - - NEWS -

Lo­cals and vis­i­tors are ex­press­ing their dis­ap­point­ment over a miss­ing swing­bridge at the pop­u­lar Mon­ck­ton Scenic Re­serve at Ash­ley Clin­ton.

The swing­bridge was used to ac­cess the DOC-main­tained Mon­ck­ton Track, a two-hour easy walk through na­tive for­est.

DOC says the bridge was re­moved af­ter it be­came un­safe due to ero­sion and struc­tural is­sues, and af­ter in­quiries from lo­cals about when it would be re­placed, said a re­place­ment was not planned, un­less there was enough sup­port from users.

Ash­ley Clin­ton res­i­dent Shel­ley Har­ri­son has set about gain­ing that sup­port, by plac­ing pe­ti­tions around busi­nesses and li­braries through­out CHB.

“The swing­bridge is an es­sen­tial part of the track as with­out it you have to scram­ble down a bank and wade through a stream, which doesn’t make it ac­ces­si­ble for a lot of older peo­ple or any­one less ag­ile and leaves peo­ple walk­ing the rest of the track with wet footwear.”

Shel­ley has been ap­proached by Ital­ian tourists who ex­pressed their dis­ap­point­ment and heard of French vis­i­tors who were pig­gy­backed across the stream by their Kiwi hosts, to pre­vent them hav­ing to tramp for two hours with wet feet.

She says re­cent rain has meant the stream was high and the track in­ac­ces­si­ble.

“I have a let­ter from the Ital­ian tourists, plus one from lo­cal playgroup ask­ing DOC to make track us­able for lit­tle kids.

“I also have one from a farm­ing group in Tuk­i­tuki river catch­ment ask­ing for a re­place­ment bridge, plus an email from Taka­pau Kura.

“I haven’t had a sin­gle per­son refuse to sign the pe­ti­tion.”

DOC Hawke’s Bay recre­ation of­fi­cer Mal­colm Lock said the swing­bridge was in­spected as part of a nor­mal in­spec­tion time­line and found to no longer meet the re­quire­ments for DOC’s cur­rent stan­dard.

“DOC must as­sess the use of its funds care­fully,” he said.

“Data is re­quired to en­sure we are mak­ing the best use of funds.”

An ini­tial busi­ness case was sub­mit­ted to re­place the bridge but wasn’t suc­cess­ful due to a lack of data on track use.

“Since we have been con­tacted about the lo­cal sup­port and the pe­ti­tion, we have re-ig­nited the busi­ness case.

“We have a track counter in place which will help us to col­lect the data we need.

“The pre­vi­ous busi­ness case re­lied on staff es­ti­mates — and we will be tak­ing the pe­ti­tion into con­sid­er­a­tion.”

In the mean­time, the track can still be ac­cessed via a stream cross­ing.

DOC ad­vises that any­one who wishes to cross the river to check the weather and does not cross in times of high flow.

The miss­ing swing­bridge was used to ac­cess the DOC-main­tained Mon­ck­ton Track.

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