Construction began last February and is expected to be complete in May. A public opening will then be scheduled.
The 7.6km route will connect cyclists and pedestrians between Palmerston North and Linton Military Camp, Massey University and Food HQ. The name means a pathway that brings people together.
The bridge, which has a viewing platform in the centre, is almost complete with just the installation of handrails needed and a final surface coating.
There are four other bridges along the path. Turitea Bridge is the closest to the city, followed by Farm Bridge. Both are 36 metres long and have three piles anchored 15 metres into the ground. The 10 metre long Greenwoods Bridge is towards the Linton end of the path. It was built in Horowhenua and trucked in for installation. This bridge connects to a raised boardwalk which lets you walk in the canopy of some of this country’s most beloved native trees. The last bridge is a suspension bridge like the the Golden Gate bridge in San Fransisco. Our Kahuterawa bridge is 45 metres long and connects the pathway to Linton Military Camp.
The route is 7.6 km from the Fitzherbert Bridge to Linton Military Camp or 5.7km from He Ara Kotahi bridge.
He Ara Kotahi bridge design
The design inspiration for the bridge is a karaka tree, with its 'roots' in Dittmer Reserve, between the Esplanade and Ruha Street. People flying from Palmerston North to Christchurch will likely get the best view of the tree design. The Karaka design has strong links to the history of our iwi, Rangitāne. Generations of Karaka have lined Karaka Grove at Massey University, providing food and shelter for the people that once lived there. Karaka trees also once covered the southern bank of the Manawatū River on the flat land between Turitea Stream and the Fitzherbert Bridge. Early Māori setters cleared some of the forest to plant kumara. When the rest of the land was converted to farmland, the first European settler to farm the land protected the remaining trees. There are other significant cultural sites along the route so the Council and Rangitāne have worked closely with archaeologists to protect these sites.
Why we're creating He Ara Kotahi
He Ara Kotahi will provide a safer and more direct route for people to travel to work and educational centres south of the river. It will encourage people to choose to cycle, with sections of the route providing safer access away from the high speed traffic along the state highway.
The project is a partnership between Palmerston North City Council, Massey University, Rangitāne, Horizons Regional Council, the New Zealand Army at Linton Military Camp and the New Zealand Transport Agency. NZTA is funding $3 million of the $14.6 million cost of the project through the Urban Cycleway Programme. The remainder of the cost will be split between the National Land Transport Fund, administered by NZTA, and Council. Powerco is also contributing $500,000.