Potential uses for a pair of sections of the original Kurow bridges that were dismantled in 2014 are still being considered by the Waitaki District Council.
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 project.
Last year, initial discussions took place between the council and the Oamaru Steam and Rail Society regarding a proposal a section of rail line opposite the macrocarpa trees at Friendly Bay be lifted, bridge sections installed and the line placed back on the bridge sections.
However, that proposed plan has since changed slightly.
Oamaru Steam and Rail Society manager Harry Andrew said to avoid paying hefty bridge inspection fees of several thousand dollars a year, as the society does for its Oamaru Creek bridge near its workshop behind Steampunk HQ, the bridge could be modified in a way the society’s steam train could go through it instead of over it.
“You’d get the feeling you’re going over the bridge, but you’re not, really.”
Mr Andrew was in the process of organising quotes to determine the potential cost of the proposed project, which had yet to be formally discussed by the council.
As the bridge would have to be set into the ground, he said a drainage system would have to be created so the structure would not rot.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the idea was “finding favour” with many.
“Ideally, it [the bridge] would be up in the air, but if you do that, there would be all sorts of specifications and so on . . . there probably needs to be a decision by council on where to from here.”
Another option was to install the bridge sections at a site in Old Mill Rd, where the historic Phoenix water wheel was to be reconstructed.
Whatever the outcome, Mr Kircher believed it was important the sections were used in some way.
“It’s a piece of history a lot of people locally will have connections with.”
Other 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.