Bridge project on the move

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One high-profile Queenstown project is poised to begin just as another’s about to open.

The refurbishment of the old one-way bridge across Kawarau Falls (right) is due to start early next month, and should be finished by Christmas.

Although the NZ Transport Agency has yet to reveal its design for the makeover of the 94-year-old bridge – originally built as a dam in a failed attempt to mine gold from the Kawarau River – it’s expected to include lighting, seating and history panels.

Since the $22 million curvy new bridge fully opened to traffic in May, contractors have been busy working on tree removal, landscaping and the construction of walking and cycling trails on both banks.

NZ Transport Agency senior project manager Phil Dowsett says a new trail and underpass beneath the new bridge’s northern abutment is expected to open early next month.

Planting on the southern bank between the old and new bridges started a fortnight ago, and is expected to be finished by the end of this month, weather permitting.

Meanwhile, the children’s playground next to The Bathhouse on Queenstown Bay officially opened this week after a $999,000 revamp.

To be called the ‘Queenstown Gardens Playspace’ – a council-speak name unlikely to catch on with kids and their parents – the area has been jazzed-up with a “nature play” focus and expanded, via a bridge over Horne Creek, to the Gardens side.

Originally scheduled for completion late last year, the project was delayed after a lacklustre response from the construction market forced the council to put it out for tender twice and up the budget.

ed@scene.co.nz