The design of the proposed new Saltwater Creek bridge. Image: Nelson City Council.

New bridge for Saltwater Creek?

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Nelson’s Saltwater Creek is one step closer to getting a much-needed new bridge.

Last week, Nelson City Council’s works and infrastructure committee recommended that additional unbudgeted funding of $300,000 be approved to progress the project – although that figure could be brought down if a NZTA subsidy is approved.

The estimated $800,000 project already has secured Urban Cycle Funding (UCF) of $500,000 which is required to be spent by June 2019.

Whether council are prepared to make up the shortfall will be decided at the next full council meeting at the end of this month.

The project has been a long time in the making, with it originally being tendered in late 2017.

But tenders came in over budget and the contract wasn’t awarded.

The project was re-tendered earlier this year and three conforming tenders were received.

The preferred and lowest tenderers price was $810,000, from Levin-based company, Edifice.

They are a specialised bridge contractor that has done extensive work in the region, including the Wairoa River swing bridge.

Council officers warned that if the project does not proceed now, the UCF funding will be lost, and there will be a risk that suppliers will not tender a third time.

The Saltwater Creek bridge connects the Maitai River Walkway with the QEII bridge underpass and a replacement structure has been part of council’s long-term goal of improving the connections from the city to the sea.

The new bridge is to be located 15m upstream from the existing bridge and will be “significantly” wider at 3m long, compared to the current one-way bridge, at 1.1m.

The bridge element equates to just under half of the total budget, with the majority covering work on the northern abutment to correct the levels and the gradients for the approaches to the bridge.

It will be clad in Garapa – the same hardwood used on the Maitai Walkway handrail.

If it gets the green light, work is likely to be undertaken in the new year with an estimated construction period of 21 weeks.

At Thursday’s meeting, councillor Matt Lawrey said he “loved the look” of the new structure, which was designed by Stantec NZ Ltd and Jerram Tocker Barron Architects.

“This is a very exciting project and a great step in terms of connecting what we’ve done on the Maitai and taking people from the city to the sea.”

Tim Skinner called the bridge a “sculpture in its own right”.

“This is the kind of sculpture we should be spending our money on, showing both function and form.”

Council officers said the old bridge has potential for re-use, with an idea to put it on the Wakapuaka Sandflats mooted at the meeting.