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Troubled bridge over Panmure's waters

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 30/05/2014
Jubilee bridge
Lauren Priestley

LINKING UP: The Jubilee Bridge is a vital part of the Panmure Basin fitness trail.

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Time is ticking for Panmure Basin's Jubilee Bridge.

The 60 metre pedestrian arch built in 1984 was meant to last 50 years but now only has one or two left on the clock.

It is a vital link in the trail around Panmure Basin, connecting Lagoon Drive to Watene Rd.

Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board chairman Simon Randall says the popular passageway is an essential part of Panmure.

The council discovered the bridge was not as sturdy as it should have been after a fire in 2013, he says.

Strengthening work is being done to ensure it remains safe for the next two years, Randall says, but the board is keen to see the bridge replaced with a wider one.

"We are still looking at what it would cost to further strengthen it but if there is an opportunity, or if we are told to replace it, we think the increased width will give better amenity for future generations.

"At the moment we can definitely afford to replace it like-for-like, but we're wanting to do more and we're looking at the options."

Building a wider bridge could bump the cost up by $1 million - money the local board does not have, he says.

NZ Transport Agency guidelines recommend pedestrian and cycling pathways be at least 3.5 metres wide, allowing users to pass each other safely.

The Jubilee Bridge is only 1.3m wide.

It is a bit of a squeeze, Randall says.

"The local circuit gets awesome use. At lunchtime it is busy and weekends it is packed.

"When it was closed last year we certainly got quite a number of inquiries about it.

"We're looking to keep that use going. The board is very committed to returning this as an asset for the community."

But Panmure Historical Society spokesman Ted Haughey says the bridge is a piece of Panmure's history and worth keeping.

"It's important that we save whatever we can now. Because, really, there's not much left. I think we need to try and preserve it if we can. It's such a big part of the basin now, it's used so much."

Cycle Action Auckland chairwoman Barbara Cuthbert says the organisation is "200 per cent" behind building a wider bridge.

It is about looking at the bigger picture, she says.

"It's so important, not just right now because it's so heavily used, but if we could expand it it would provide a really vital connection.

"We're getting more and more people walking and more and more people cycling now. We're getting these huge numbers so we need to provide for them."

Councillor Denise Krum says the situation around Jubilee Bridge is dire. The local board approached the council this month to contribute funding and council agreed to $150,000. Because it was so "late in the piece", the council could not commit to more, Krum says.

It is an unfortunate situation but could be a win-win if a rebuild works out, she says.

"We are hanging up the benefits of cycling all around Auckland but if you get to Jubilee Bridge and you can't even cross two walkers, let alone bikes, it's hardly a good look. The public can be assured the bridge won't fall down around them at the moment but we've got to do something about it."

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- East And Bays Courier

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