No guarantee Pepe Bridge will be upgraded in next three years

14 Sep 2021

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency announced on Tuesday last week a $1.5 billion investment in the Waikato’s land transport system as part of the agency’s 2021 -2024 Land Transport Programme (NLTP).

Included in the 2021 - 2024 NLTP is a statement saying, “Safe, reliable access around the Coromandel is a high priority for the region. Work is underway to improve several one-way bridges, including SH26 Onetai Bridge and SH25 Pepe Bridge. Design options for these bridges are being shared with iwi, key stakeholders and affected residents, and these are expected to be considered for funding in this NLTP period.”

When The Informer enquired whether the statement means the Pepe Bridge in Tairua will be upgraded before the end of 2024, David Speirs, Waka Kotahi’s director of regional relationships, responded as follows: 

“We are currently at the shortlist stage in the business case for replacement bridge options for the Pepe Stream Bridge. This means we have narrowed down the options to a list of three - a single lane bridge with an attached walking and wheeling path, a two-lane bridge with an attached walking and wheeling path and a two-lane bridge with a separate bridge for walking and wheeling. 

“Last month, more than 70 people attended the public drop-in session held by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to provide feedback on the proposed Pepe Stream Bridge replacement options, with those who weren’t able to attend able to provide their feedback online. Following this, we are continuing our assessments on the shortlist to determine the best option to take forward for design. This will include taking into account the feedback we have received from the community. The business case is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

“Funding for pre-implementation - consenting, property and design phases of a project - has been allocated within the 2021 - 2024 NLTP. Once the business case has been completed and approved, Waka Kotahi will need to apply for this funding.

“Funding for construction is possible within the 2021 - 2024 NLTP period, if more funding becomes available. We will continue to work with Thames-Coromandel District Council and the Tairua community to ensure this project is well placed if more funding becomes available in 2021 - 2024 and to help ensure it is in the best position for funding in the 2024 - 2027 NLTP by aligning with the transport priorities which will be set out in the [Government Policy on Land Transport] in 2024, should funding for construction not become available in this NLTP period.”

Mr Speirs undertook that Waka Kotahi will continue to keep the community informed of their progress. For more information and updates on the agency’s progress, visit nzta.govt.nz/projects/sh25-sh25a-thames-coromandel/pepe-stream-bridge-replacement/.

More than $56 million has been allocated in the 2021 - 2024 NLTP for road improvements and maintenance on the Coromandel, and making the Peninsula’s road safer. The amount includes the cost of road repairs undertaken the past three years to repair storm damage. 

Pictured: Pepe Bridge in Tairua.