Bridge toll mooted

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Me­lanie Ver­ran

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.

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