A pair of sections of the original Kurow bridges that were demolished to make way for a new bridge spanning the Waitaki River may get a new lease of life in Oamaru.
In 2014, two 133-year-old single-lane, wooden structures were demolished and replaced with two modern two-lane bridges as part of a $20.1million New Zealand Transport Agency investment project.
Some sections of the old bridges were used to create a display about the history of the bridges on Kurow Island, while other sections were allocated to the Waitaki District Council and Waimate District Council, to be used as they saw fit.
Some of those sections have been used to create seats in Kurow’s main street, and to fill gaps around the Waitaki district’s roading network.
Two sections are in Oamaru and stored near Friendly Bay.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said he would like to see the bridge sections used for “a bit of a display”, preferably in the harbour area.
“We’ve had some initial discussions with the Oamaru Steam and Rail Society and one idea put forward was to have them as part of their system and have the train running through the bridge section. But that has to go past the councillors.”
He was keen on a proposal that would involve a section of rail line being lifted, bridge sections installed and the line placed back on the bridge sections.
That would mean the society’s diesel train, which generally ran on Sundays from Harbourside Station to the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony area, would travel under the restored historic rail overbridge, across lower Wansbeck St and through the bridge sections.
Mr Kircher believed the ideal area to install the Kurow bridge sections would be between the first and fourth carved macrocarpa trees at Friendly Bay.
Another idea suggested was to use them as part of a planned suspension bridge to span Oamaru Creek where the now-demolished bridge stood between the society’s workshop and the foreshore. However, the sections are too short.
While the rail option was not set in stone, Mr Kircher said the society was keen for it to happen.
However, he wanted to hear other suggestions from the community.
“I’m certainly open to ideas … there are other things they could potentially be used for. It would be good if we could have them doing something useful and recognise the heritage value of them.”