The 300 kids at Taipa Area School in Northland have more reason than most for celebrating the new bridge in their town. The bridge construction team has fixed a chronic problem that often forced the school’s closure, sometimes for days at a time.
The school’s problem was that storm water flooded the school grounds during heavy rainfall and the school’s year 1 -13 pupils had to stay at home. In 2017 it happened 6 times.
School principal Doreen Bailey says she would tell anyone who would listen, and even those who didn’t want to listen, about the flooding, hoping for help.
“The quadrangle used to flood. It was so bad the water level would be over the top of the kids’ gumboots.”
That was before the NZ Transport Agency’s bridge construction team came to town. Their mission was to replace the old one lane bridge and make road and safety improvements in Taipa. They also had to replace some of the town’s storm water pipes. And they listened when Doreen Bailey told her story.
That’s been a catalyst for change at Taipa Area School, as the school’s front gate is just a hundred and fifty metres or so from the new bridge.
The project team worked with the school, the Ministry of Education and the Far North District Council to find the extra funding needed to extend the new storm water pipes from the bridge to the school.
The NZ Transport Agency Senior Manager Project Delivery Andrew Thackwray says it was a good problem to solve and a great benefit to the township.
“It wasn’t about cost. It was about achieving better value for a key stakeholder by utilising a range of funding streams outside the National Land Transport Programme.”
“It puts a spring in the step of the project team, knowing that they’re doing good for the community as well as doing a great job on the bridge replacement.”
And it’s worked. Doreen Bailey says the improved drainage has been a great success.
“There’s already been some heavy rain this winter. And usually the grounds would have been flooded. But not this winter. We’ve had no flooding and no need to close the school.”
“We’re very pleased and very grateful to the NZTA and the project team.”
Taipa is on the Twin Coast Discovery Route and a popular summer destination for holidaymakers and tourists. The town’s old one lane bridge was often a congestion point, but the new two lane bridge with a shared path for pedestrians and cyclists will be finished in time for this summer. And so will the bridge’s swimming platform - just what the kids will need on summer days after school.
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