He Ara Kotahi Bridge and Pathway will open on Friday 7 June. Rangitāne will bless the 7.1km pathway at dawn. Later in the afternoon the Associate Minister of Transport Julie-Ann Genter and Mayor Grant Smith will open the bridge. The bridge and pathway can be used by the public from 4.30pm.
The opening of He Ara Kotahi comes almost five years after Palmerston North City Council first commissioned a report into potential locations for a second bridge to cross the Manawatū River. It will connect almost 18,000 people who work at Linton in the Military Camp, NZ Pharmaceuticals and Manawatū Prison, as well as large numbers studying and working at the Massey University and FoodHQ campuses. In 2017 the project received resource consent, and in early 2018 construction began.
The 194m long bridge stretches from Dittmer Drive in the city across the Manawatū River near Dairy Farm Road. Users have the option to travel 1.5km to Massey University and Food HQ or take a 5km journey to Linton.
The $19 million project has been funded by the New Zealand Government Urban Cycleways programme, NZ Transport Agency, Palmerston North City Council and Powerco. Rangitāne, Massey University, Horizons Regional Council and the New Zealand Defence Force have been key partners in the project.
Mayor Grant Smith says the commute for students, academics, scientists, workers and the military is now going to get a lot easier, safer and more scenic.
“This pathway is all about better connecting our city and seeing it from a side not viewed before. After more than a century of turning our back on the Manawatū River, we are now embracing our great awa. He Ara Kotahi is a safer route for people to get to work along the river and away from high speed traffic on the State Highway. By getting more people walking, running, or on bikes it will also mean less congestion on our roads.”
Mr Smith says council is contributing approximately $7 million of the $19 million build cost – and that is great value for money.
“This is one of the biggest spends ever by the Palmerston North City Council and demonstrates our commitment to being one of the most exciting and liveable cities in this country.”
Council’s Chief Infrastructure Officer, Tom Williams, says while He Ara Kotahi is a commuter route, it’s also going to put Palmy on the map.
“We’ve loved watching how excited our residents and people outside our region are about the opening of the bridge but we know the pathway is going to be equally as iconic. Walkers and cyclists will be able to travel over five bridges in total, walk amongst the canopy of some of our most well-known native trees, and see the most breathtaking views of our city, not seen before. We cannot wait to see families and tourists getting outdoors and enjoying this track that sits on the doorstep of our CBD.”