A red helium balloon soaring over the banks of the Mataura River isn’t advertising the venue for a party – it shows how high the Gore District Council’s proposed 39 metre high bridge will be if it’s built.
Members of the newly-formed Waimea Plains Landscape Preservation Society Incorporated, which is opposed to the bridge being built, sent the balloon into the sky late on Tuesday afternoon, attached to a 39m rope, at the site of where the cable-stay bridge would be.
“It’s pretty hard to visualise how high 39m is so this should give people some idea,’’ society spokesperson Lynn Gray said.
In June, the council announced a plan to build a new $3.7 million pedestrian and cycleway footbridge that would carry water pipes across the river, north of the existing traffic bridge, as part of a $10.7 m upgrade of its East Gore water treatment plant.
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The NZ Transport Agency will co-fund 55 per cent of the 90m long bridge, leaving the council to pay $1.6m.
Gray said the group had plenty of concerns about the bridge.
“At 39m, there’s definitely a visual impact for a start, and there has been no safety impact report done about pedestrians and cyclists on Huron St, where the cars come hurtling down, or on the heavy traffic bypass on the other side of the river.
“We’re opposed to it being built there and think the pipes should either go under the river, or the bridge should be built at Maitland Street.’’
The group also questioned whether cultural impact assessments had been done, why the council was building on a flood plane, how the bridge and pathway would be lit at night time, and whether erosion of the riverbank had been considered.
It was also concerned at the lack of consultation with affected land owners during the planning process.
Gray had launched a petition opposing the bridge, which had been signed by more than 1000 people.
“That’s 1000 people that aren’t happy and don’t want it.’’
Gore District Council chief executive Steve Parry said he had not seen the balloon.
“We are about to embark into the resource consent process, so bearing that in mind it would be inappropriate for me to comment,’’ he said.
The council had lodged land use consents with Environment Southland, but they had been delayed because changes needed to be made to some of the supporting documentation relating to the visual impacts of the bridge on the values of the Mataura River.
Gray said the society had written to ES chief executive Rob Phillips asking for the consents to be publicly notified.
ES consents manager Aurora Grant said the council was still assessing the application to ensure it had all the information it needed to process it and determine what the effects of the proposal would be.
A notification decision on the application had yet to be determined, she said.
A separate application has been made to Gore District Council for land use required under the Gore District Plan.
Public notification has been requested by the applicant, therefore there would be opportunity for the public to submit on the application through the Gore District Council notified process, Grant said.