The ownership of the old single-lane Kopu Bridge near Thames has been passed to the Kopu Bridge and Community Trust.
After several years of consultation and negotiations, the Society presented a business case to NZ Transport Agency representatives and a legal agreement has been reached. The deal will see ownership of the heritage-listed bridge handed to the Trust in conjunction with the Society.
The central swing-span bridge across the Waihou River opened in 1928 and has been idle since the opening of the new two-lane Kopu Bridge in December 2011. As the bridge is no longer part of the national highway network the Transport Agency can no longer fund any future maintenance or upgrades.
Transport System Manager Karen Boyt says the agreement means the Trust will take financial responsibility for the bridge.
“The old Kopu Bridge is a historic structure, and we recognise its past, engineering legacy and early contribution to regional economic development.”
Ms Boyt says the Transport Agency has heard the views of many people ahead of the decision about the bridge’s future.
“Over the past years we have engaged widely with local councils, Heritage NZ, and the community to evaluate options and have used an independent consultant to facilitate part of that process.”
“We are pleased to have reached this agreement and we hope to see the bridge restored to something that the public can get enjoyment out of,” Ms Boyt says.
Bridge Trust chair Ross Bayer says they are delighted with the outcome.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to restore the bridge and open it as a public pedestrian and cycle way.
“We are aware that the hard work is about to start now and we are up for the challenge,” Mr Bayer says.
The deal is subject to the Transport Agency receiving yearly reports for five years from the Trust on the operation of the bridge. The Trust will also provide conservation, public health and safety, navigation of the Waihou River and engineering and maintenance plans.
If within the five years the Trust indicates that they cannot manage the project, NZTA can take back ownership of the bridge.
For more information go to: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/kopu-bridge-replacement/(external link)