Ramping up the access to bridge

21:01, Sep 20 2012

The Wairoa cycle bridge will be more user-friendly after the Tasman District Council decided to improve the access ramps to the 80-metre long suspension bridge following a number complaints that they were too steep.

The $265,000 cycle trail bridge was only just opened in June but council announced this week it would be modifying the access ramps next month.

Work to reduce the gradient on the ramps to one-in-10 will start in either the first or second week in October when the bridge will be closed.

Deputy mayor and Moutere-Waimea councillor Tim King conceded the ramps were steep but said that was because the bridge had to be built within a specified budget. Longer access ramps with a gentler gradient would have cost a lot more money and council decided the shorter, steeper ramps were an acceptable compromise.

Tim said the majority of people he’d spoken to were happy with the bridge and he suspected it was a small minority of users that had put pressure on council to modify the ramps. However, Tim said modifying the bridges was the best solution because the cycle trail was such a big asset to the district and it was important to ensure it was completely safe and user-friendly.

‘‘I didn’t think they were that bad but perhaps we got it wrong. If we had put a sign up at the start advising people to walk we wouldn’t have had a problem.

‘‘It seems a relatively small amount of money in the scheme of things – it’s going to be there for a long time.’’

Council engineer Dugald Ley said the new cycle way bridge over the Waimea River, which is presently under construction, would not have the same problem. It had been designed to have rideable access ramps although he recommended that cyclists should walk across both bridges to avoid any traffic issues with on-coming riders.