Swing bridge response varied

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A proposal to build a swing bridge across the Clutha River close to the river’s outlet from Lake Wanaka has drawn a mixed community response.

The idea was suggested by the Upper Clutha Tracks Trust last month and community feedback was sought by the group through social media.

“This would provide a key new link in the Upper Clutha track network, giving easy access to Dublin Bay and the Deans Bank Tracks. It could also provide a great option for the Great Ride Track (National Cycleways) linking Wanaka to Cromwell,” the idea’s promoter, Upper Clutha track network member John Wellington, said.

The bridge would provide easy access from Wanaka to Dublin Bay and the tracks on the true left of the Clutha River. It would reduce the distance from the log cabin to Dublin Bay from 19km to 11.5km, cutting approximately 7.5km from the journey. It would also open a quicker route to the Deans Bank mountain bike track network and create a great 7.5km loop track to Albert Town on both sides of the Clutha River, he said.

The bridge would need to be between 100m and 140m long, depending on its exact location.

The idea was “just a proposal” at this stage, he said. If it was adopted as part of the Great Ride Track, it would be paid for by the Government.

It would open up the whole area to families, he said.

Arguments against the proposal broke down into three categories: that the existing access was good enough, potential visual impact, and “spoiling special places” through too much access, he said.

With the continued growth of Wanaka it was important to have access to other beaches, he said.

“Support is strong in the community for the overall position .. some groups don’t like it.”

A well-designed bridge could be be aesthetically pleasing, he said.

“A lot of people would go to the centre of the bridge just to take photos.”

Comments about the proposal on the group’s facebook site include:

A great idea. Would link Dublin Bay into the track network making it much more accessible from Wanaka without needing to drive. Potential to ease pressure on outlet track as population grows. Keep up the good work!

No thanks – No way. What a travesty would that be having a bridge at the outlet of our sacred lake, the origin of flow of the Mata-Au. Ugly awful – No way. We’re spoiled as it is with our tracks, world class, let’s not forget how spoiled we are. And thank you for all the wonderful track work can’t thank you enough.