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The old railway bridge in Centennial Park is being demolished, and will be replaced by a suspension bridge. PHOTO: BRYAN BLANCHARD

by Claire Allison

A piece of Timaru history is being dismantled after serving the town for 117 years.

The wooden bridge in Centennial Park was originally built for the trains that carried bluestone from the quarries to Timaru’s port for breakwater construction.

It is now used only by pedestrians and cyclists.

Its piles and supports had reached the stage where it was not possible to predict how much longer they would last, Timaru District Council parks and recreation manager Bill Steans said.

“It was 117 years old. It’s done pretty well and probably has only done that well because of the Australian hardwood that was used.”

Alexandra-based firm Breen Construction has been awarded the $430,000 contract to demolish the bridge and replace it with a wooden suspension bridge and the project is scheduled for completion in September.

Mr Steans said the replacement was being carried out during a quieter period in the park, although the bridge was used all year round by an average of 1300 users per week.

While work is under way, pedestrians and cyclists have to use the vehicle bridge 100m north.

Mr Steans said park users were being asked to be extra cautious.

There are plans to use some of the larger pieces of timber salvaged from the bridge to make park seats or other items, as a way of preserving some of the history of the structure.