An on-line petition calling for the one lane Pekatahi Bridge near Taneatua to be changed into two has close to seven hundred people supporting it. Five million dollars has been set aside to renovate the bridge by New Zealand Transport Authority but they say a new bridge won’t be considered until 2035.
Whakatāne resident and petition organiser Mawera Karetai says “to put a new deck on this one lane bridge which is a kin to putting a sticky plaster on a broken arm. It’s just pointless! What we need is a new bridge."
New Zealand Transport Authority will close the bridge for renovations in February next year. However, Board of Trustees chair for Taneatua School Richard Sisam says that there is already a lot of traffic in the area.
“It’s disappointing really that the new bridge wasn’t given priority like there’s been extra traffic push through this area diverted from Ohope and this is a bottleneck here,” says Mr. Sisam.
Two years ago renovations on the bridge closing it for a week caused frustration. The idea of a new two-lane bridge was voiced then.
Taneatua local Tamahou McGarvey says “at times the traffic lights can be hōhā! You know you see people waiting on the other side and there waiting there for four-five minutes if the light turns green.”
Mawera Karetai she is passionate about economic growth in this region, however, this can't be done with a one lane bridge.
“We’ve developed the petition in a hard copy form now so we are going to start distributing that we are going to go and knock on some doors. I’ve had some conversations with transport operators in the region so now it’s a matter of getting those on paper to add support.”
Niclas Johansson of NZTA says that “they will only consider building a new bridge should there be extreme economy growth in the region within the next 10 years.”