Bridge good for all but Kopu

HAPPY: Peter Dix likes the new bridge. He waited up to three hours to cross the old one.
HAPPY: Peter Dix likes the new bridge. He waited up to three hours to cross the old one.

The traffic is now flowing freely to and from the Coromandel, but the once thriving village of Kopu has been struck off the map.

This year, holidaymakers have been treated to a new two-laned bridge which cut traffic waiting times dramatically and made for some very happy drivers.

Holidaymaker Peter Dix said he had been travelling to Whitianga for summer breaks for about 18 years and had waited up to three hours to cross the bridge, but that was now a thing of the past. "We've sat in traffic from Pipiroa and crawled all the way [to the bridge]," he said.

But local businesses are suffering, as the new traffic layout has dropped them on a back-road to nowhere.

Roadhouse Cafe owners Guy and Tanya Robinson said business this year had been dismal, with a 60 per cent drop in trade from previous years.

Mr Robinson attributed that to a lack of signage directing travellers to the village.

The new bridge was finished but there was no slipway, meaning traffic can only head one way through Kopu.

And that is if they notice the town at all. Mr Robinson said the road had not been updated in GPS services and they had been redirecting lost and confused travellers since the bridge opened in December last year.

Mr Robinson also said that the new roundabout on the Thames side of the bridge had already seen accidents as a result of travellers speeding through the quiet town.

"We're the first to admit the old bridge was a nightmare, but it psychologically set the drivers and people in the Coromandel mode, which is: slow down," he said.

Kopu Cafe owner Moeun Ear said the cafe had a good enough reputation for people to seek it out, but they had still suffered a 25 per cent drop in trade from last year.

"Tourists who have never been here, they don't know where we are," he explained.

Mr Ear said they will be moving the cafe to a prime spot right next to the new road in the middle of 2013, to try to combat the loss of business.

Waikato Times