Old Whangamomona Road Under Threat

Guest Post by Andi Cockroft

It all started back in 2000 when Stratford District Council became so concerned with the state of a locally renowned bridge over the Arnold Stream.

So much so that they attempted to block the bridge with concrete blocks and effectively close the road to vehicular traffic

The road runs through magnificent back country clinging close by the Whangamomona River. Starting at Aotuhia and its equally renowned “Bridge to Somewhere” (yes it does exist), the road runs due north passing through mostly DOC administered lands on its way to Whangamomona on the “Forgotten World Highway”.

In response, a local group was formed “Whangamomona Road Action Group” or WRAG to come to the assistance of road. Given that Whangamomona village itself was in its death-throes raising funds to help revitalise the area turned out to be surprisingly easy.

Over $300,000 was raised to replace two bridges, not only the Arnold Stream Bridge, but also the Miro Stream Bridge which had been washed away many years before. At least at the Miro, a track could be cut down to ford the stream, not the case at the Arnold – far too steep.

WRAG spent the next couple of years replacing both bridges with mordern steel girder designs, with the Arnold solution being quite unique – the new bridge was placed inside the old wodden bridge.

The author crossing the new Arnold Bridge – the old bridge still remains

Since then until mid-2018, WRAG has been successful in maintaining the road – albeit to a minimalistic level. However, severe adverse weather saw huge slips block the road and although cleared to some degree, the road is in need of urgent action.

Stratford District Council has been considering the future of the road for quite a while now, and have been liaising with user groups including Whangamomona Trus, WRAG, the New Zealand 4WD Association and Public Access New Zealand.

SDC is considering several options:

  • In conjunction with NZTA, upgrade the whole road to County Standards – Costs in the millions of dollars.
  • Upgrade the road at both north and south just to the boundaries with DOC administered lands, with carparks at both locations. Cost moderate
  • Enter into maintenance agreements with a 3rd-party such as WRAG to lo0k after the road, a donation of around $20,000 pa should be afforded by SDC
  • Follow the provisions of the Local Government Act 1974 and stop the road. SDC recognise this would create massive objections and would be very unlikely to succeed
The Pub (currently for sale) has benefitted enormously from the Old Road being reopened in 2002
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