Waitaki Herald : December 3rd 2014
4 WAITAKI HERALD, DECEMBER 3, 2014 NEWS Towns unite to celebrate bridges By DANIEL BIRCHFIELDdaniel.email@example.com It was party time for Kurow and Hakataramea on Saturday, as the two communities either side of the Waitaki River came together to celebrate their two new bridges. The south bridge was officially opened in April, and the longer of the two, the north bridge, was opened in June. The new bridges, a $21 million project, replace the old timber single lane bridges which stood for 132 years before being demolished due to their inability to cope with increased traffic flow and closures caused by flood damage. More than 4000 people turned out on a sunny but breezy day to mark the ‘‘bridging Waitaki waters’’ event at Kurow Island, which as been years in the making. ‘‘We were absolutely thrilled with the turnout,’’ said organising committee media liaison Elizabeth Hayes. ‘‘To have 4000 we were abso- lutely stoked. It’s the first event on the island as it was and with the weather, we didn’t really know what to expect. The community all seemed to really get behind us.’’ Speaking at the event, NZ Transport Agency southern regional director Jim Harland said when he started in his role four years ago, the possibility of new bridges spanning the Waitaki River was essential. ‘‘It became pretty clear to me within a couple of months of starting the job there was a problem here,’’ he said. ‘‘The bridges were not reliable and they were affecting the ability of the communities on either side of the river to in fact grow their economies, enjoy the recreational opportunities and also from a safety perspective there was concerns around emergency services.’’ Harland said the determination of the community to get their new bridges and support shown at public meetings made all the difference. Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said it was a ‘‘notable’’ day for the Kurow and Hakataramea communities. ‘‘It’s been great for the com- munity to have a community-led event. The importance of the bridges to the local community can’t be underestimated. It really is a very physical connection between parts of the community and brings them together. It carries on a very strong bond which will continue for years to come. ‘‘In a bigger sense, it’s a vital link for our economy and that’s important for the district and the local community.’’ Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean described the bridges as ‘‘magnificent’’. ‘‘It’s now a proper gateway to Guests: Former Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton and Heather Familton at the bridging Waitaki waters celebrations at Kurow Island on Saturday. and from the Kurow Valley. The island has been transformed from a rubbish dump to being once again a tourist attraction with (old bridge) spans there. ‘‘I think today should be the envy of every other community in New Zealand because for the third time the whole community has turned out to celebrate the final stages of what has been a massive, massive hard-won project.’’ A ribbon was cut to open a ped- estrian bridge made from timber from the old bridges, while pupils from Waitaki Valley School performed a Waitaha before Dean unveiled a plaque dedicated to Photos: Daniel Birchfield/Fairfax NZ those who built the original bridges in 1881. Other events included a convoy of modern and vintage vehicles crossing the new bridges, while those who came along enjoyed some Christmas shopping and lunch from about 50 stalls set up on the island. Old and new: A crowd checks out the new pedestrian bridge at Kurow Island. Dedication: WaitakiMPJacqui Dean unveils a plaque to honour those who constructed the original Kurow bridges, which opened in November 1881. Official opening: Charlie Hayes, 3, Anne Te MaiharoaDodds, Bob Watherston and Tom Cochrane cut a ribbon to open a pedestrian bridge partly made from timber from the original Kurow bridges. Holidays all year round at McKenzie Lifestyle Village. It’ll soon be summer. Lots of people spend their holidays here in Geraldine - but why just have a summer holiday when you can move here instead? Move to Geraldine’s McKenzie Lifestyle Village - we take care of every day maintenance so you can a enjoy a holiday lifestyle all year round. Visit mlv.co.nz, call David Connolly now on 0800 845 524 or come and find us at 33 Connolly Street, Geraldine.
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