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Driving across history

May 27, 2020

Concerns over the safety of the 115-year-old Mangaweka Bridge on Ruahine Road have been the subject of much debate in recent years.

And now a solution has been reached which will see the bridge live on as a pedestrian and cycle facility while a new road bridge will be built a little further downstream.

The historic, single-lane Mangaweka Bridge, first opened in 1904 to serve the settlers farming in the Kauwhatau Valley. It divides the Rangitīkei and Manawatū Districts and is the only cantilever road bridge left in New Zealand.

Today it’s a tourist icon, allowing visitors to Mangaweka to enjoy the breathtaking river views, papa cliffs and surrounding beauty. Awastone, a riverside haven for camping and rafting is located on both sides of the bridge. All these benefits will be maintained with its conversion to a foot and cycle way.

Providing a link as it does between Rangitīkei and Manawatū Districts it is only natural that the bridge became a joint venture between the two Councils. A Management Plan has been written to manage the bridge into the future and to oversee the two-pronged project – the conversion of the old bridge and the building of the new road bridge.

The ongoing maintenance responsibilities will be negotiated between the Mangaweka Heritage Trust and the two Councils. Annual average maintenance cost is likely to be appropriately $20,000.

“Such a spend within the District is certainly good news,” notes CE Peter Beggs. ‘There are bound to be local jobs resulting from both these projects.

“And having the added bonus of retaining the old bridge as a pedestrian and cycle way is going to continue to attract visitors to our District,’ he says.

Tendering work is currently underway and once let, Council will know the time frames for the completion of both the conversion and the new bridge.