Lake footbridge work under way

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 08:44 14/12/2012
tekapo footbridge
SUPPLIED/ Chris MacLaren
DIGGING DEEP: The first stage of the construction has begun on the Lake Tekapo footbridge, with machinery used to test drilling for the piers.

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Construction of the Lake Tekapo footbridge is becoming a reality.

Lake Tekapo Footbridge Society secretary Chris Maclaren said a large crane and machinery had appeared on the bank of the river early this week, as the drilling for the first of the piers got under way.

"This first stage is to drill a test caisson [a section of one of the piers] on the dry section of the river bed. This should be completed before Christmas and the machinery will then disappear until full construction starts," she said.

"Once that is completed, we will have a better idea of what the future construction costs will be, but this is all very exciting. It's great to finally see some work happening."

A caisson is a retaining, watertight structure used to work on the foundations of a bridge pier.

Mrs Maclaren said if the test drilling was successful, then full construction could begin within the next 12 months, depending on funding. The society began fundraising for the project in August 2010, and Genesis Energy announced in September this year it would commit $500,000 to the project.

The Mackenzie District Council, Meridian and other groups have also pledged money toward the project.

"There's been several attempts at this in the past, but without the support of Genesis Energy, we couldn't have got to where we are," she said.

"Part of the agreement with Genesis was that a test caisson be constructed to assess any possible risk to the project.

"We felt it was a good time to do it when the lake was at its lowest."

Once complete, the footbridge will be about 110 metres long and provide an alternative route to join the two sides of the town separated by the lake outlet.

"There's been so much work and fundraising to get it this far, but there's still some way to go.

"But it's been very exciting, I'm learning things about bridges I never knew before," Mrs Maclaren said.

She said there were several other upcoming fundraising projects, including a musterer's walk in March.

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- The Timaru Herald

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