A 100-metre long suspension bridge across the Manganui Gorge will become one of the impressive new features of the Taranaki Crossing, the Department of Conservation (DOC) said today.
Tenders have opened for construction of the bridge, which will be funded through the $13.3 million investment made by the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund into the Taranaki Crossing project.
DOC says the crossing project will improve 25km of tracks, creating a mix of short walks and longer tramps, while also minimising the impact of visitors on the maunga environment.
The project has ongoing support from Kānoa, the Regional Economic & Investment Unit, which has welcomed this significant Taranaki Crossing project milestone.
Operations Manager, Gareth Hopkins says the new bridge will connect the Plateau carpark with the only ski-field on the maunga, via a 40-minute walk.
“The new bridge will be a key feature of Taranaki Crossing and the 4-5 day Around the Mountain circuit,” Mr Hopkins says.
“We have a design confirmed, incorporating a 1.2m wide deck and towers up to 22 metres high. It’s a very eye-catching design, and we expect to build the bridge for less than $1 million based on current cost estimates. The bridge designer has been working on an elegant yet strong design that sits slightly hidden up the Manganui Gorge.”
Safety and ease of construction and extensive modelling of wind and avalanche conditions have all been factored into the bridge design, he said.
The bridge will be built with additional main cables that allow the cables to be replaced and maintained without needing major closures, providing additional safety to users. The decking will be a fibre-reinforced plastic allowing quick drainage and great grip for users.
Once in situ, the bridge will significantly improve access through this part of the mountain environment and make it much easier for people to make a short hike to the Manganui Lodge and ski area. It will replace a short section of track which has required visitors to descend to the bottom of a gorge. The existing track through the gorge has been prone to washouts and closure due to avalanches.
As part of the tender process, DOC will supply some of the materials to the successful contractor – the main cables and bridge decking product – to allow for the long lead times for these materials. The Department said evaluation of tenders will focus on a range of aspects, including regional benefit, track record of construction projects, and methodology.
The site for the bridge is significant to Ngāti Ruanui, who have been in ongoing consultation with DOC on the design and location of the bridge.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui Kaiwhakaharae, Rachel Rae says all matters relating to Koro Taranaki are significant to the iwi.
“The archictectural design and modern safety features will create safe and more environmentally friendly access to the Manganui Ski Area,” she said.
“We are continuing to hold discussions to ensure a strong Ruanuitanga narrative and approach throughout the project and beyond.”
The tender process is expected to be concluded in January.