Bridge toll mooted
The move to explore other options on Grafton Bridge instead of closing it completely to private vehicles during the day has met with the approval of a key business figure.
The previous Auckland City Council planned to close the 98-year-old bridge from 2010 to motorists other than emergency services, buses, motorbikes and cyclists between 7am and 7pm to make way for a bus route as part of the central connector project.
Earlier this month council transport committee chairman Ken Baguley announced it is now looking at ways to reduce vehicle traffi instead of excluding it completely.
One possibility is charging drivers for the short trip across the bridge. “We’re just throwing it out there to see if it is something we should look at and if it would change people’s behaviour.”
Mr Baguley stresses that no firm plans have been made.
Later this year the bridge will close to all traffic, except pedestrians and cyclists, for 12 to 15 months while strengthening work is completed.
Mr Baguley says this will provide an opportunity to observe traffic flows in the area.
Newmarket Business Association general manager Cameron Brewer is pleased the council is considering other options to keep the bridge open.
“We are supporting a sound and sensible way to keep cars, albeit at a reduced level, flowing over Grafton Bridge because it is an important gateway to this part of the city,” he says.
“I would imagine it carries tens of thousands of cars each day.
“If they close it completely during daylight hours it puts another pressure on other roads that feed the east like Wellesley St bridge over Grafton Gully, Khyber Pass Rd and the southern motorway.”
He says closing the bridge would also encourage “rat running” through the Auckland Domain.
But Mr Brewer sees the cost of a toll system as a possible barrier.
“It would be the only toll road in central Auckland.
“One thing they might come up against is the cost of operating a toll mechanism and of compliance,” Mr Brewer says.