Footbridge to be repaired, given to council

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 13:16 31/01/2013
Footbridge
WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ

OUT OF ORDER: Work on Dannevirke's closed Christian St footbridge is set to start immediately after KiwiRail handed over ownership to the Tararua District Council.

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KiwiRail has handed over a well-trodden Dannevirke footbridge to the Tararua District Council in order to get it up to scratch for the school term.

Representatives from KiwiRail and the council met on this week to discuss the future of the footbridge after safety concerns about the popular access way were raised last November.

The Christian St footbridge, which crosses the railway lines running parallel to Queen St and links Dannevirke High School with High St, the town's main thoroughfare, has caused concern among the community.

The footbridge, owned by KiwiRail, was vested into the council's possession yesterday, subject to KiwiRail completing the necessary repairs prior to the transfer taking place.

The council issued KiwiRail a notice to fix the footbridge before Christmas after finding it too dangerous to use due to a "rotten structural member".

Council building officer Russell Palmer said the instability of steps and ladders made it unsafe for the public to use, so the council was forced to close it.

Mayor Roly Ellis said something needed to be done before the school term started back because of the risk it posed to the public.

"I impressed on KiwiRail the urgency of it and that people will still try to be stupid and use it.

"I think they realised the seriousness of it ... we came to an amicable agreement on it where they said 'look, if you don't take it over, then we're going to rip it down'.

"It's a very satisfactory outcome because it's a bridge that's used heavily and especially during school time. The last thing we want is children crossing the railway lines when it's dangerous."

The bridge would undergo a complete restructure from the ground to the top of the steps, starting immediately, Mr Ellis said.

KiwiRail will cover the costs of fixing the footbridge, but both the council and KiwiRail were tight-lipped about an estimated cost.

A spokeswoman said KiwiRail was happy to have worked with the council to find a solution that ensured access in a way that met the community and KiwiRail's needs.

The public are urged to use safe options to cross the railway track while repairs are being undertaken - they include a crossing on Cole St, 600 metres from Dannevirke High School's gates on Grant St, and another 700m away on Allardice St.

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- Manawatu Standard

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