Support for old Viaduct bridge
City officials are rethinking plans to put major bus routes through the Viaduct Harbour across a new lifting bridge.
Concerns have been raised over using the planned Te Wero bridge for hundreds of buses every day, linking the Wynyard Quarter development with the central city.
The hefty $51 million price tag has also prompted calls for the existing 1930s heritage lifting bridge to be restored instead.
Former Auckland Harbour Board chairman Harry Julian says Auckland City Council’s plan for the Te Wero bridge is a farce.
“It’s a total waste of money,” he says.
Mr Julian says the existing bridge, in use from 1932 until the Viaduct Harbour development in the 1990s, can be restored for under $200,000.
The bridge is fixed down and carries service pipes underneath, but is otherwise in working order.
“I’d bet my shirt that apart from disconnecting the pipes, you could have the bridge running with a week of maintenance,” he says.
Mr Julian, 83, objects to use of the Viaduct as a public transport thoroughfare.
“On the weekend there are thousands of people wandering around, looking at the boats, in the restaurants,” he says.
“If you make that a throughway for traffic, that’s all finished.”
Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney says there needs to be more discussion about the kind of waterfront Aucklanders want.
He says the images put forward for consultation don’t reflect the level of traffi proposed.
“I dread to think that we’ll be looking back at plans for Wynyard Quarter and shaking our heads,” Mr Swney says.
A rethink was also urged by former city councillor Greg McKeown at a council meeting last month.
Mr McKeown said support was growing for use of the heritage bridge instead of the Te Wero design.
The council agreed to a peer review of the plans before moving forward on the bridge plans.
City development committee chairman Aaron Bhatnagar says the review will look at concerns around cost and whether the bridge achieves the best outcome for the Viaduct.
The council has allocated $31.9m in development contributions to the project, while Auckland Regional Holdings is to put in $5.2m.
The shortfall could be made up with a subsidy from the New Zealand Transport Agency, but only if the bridge acts as a key transport route.
“There are some Viaduct businesses and landowners concerned about having a public transport link through there,” Mr Bhatnagar says.
“We will be seeking input from local stakeholders as well, it won’t be a closed-shop review.”
The peer review will be reported back to the council this month.
Rolling lift: The lifting bridge at the Viaduct Harbour just after being installed in 1932. The bridge and its wooden control booth are still in place today.
Twin leaf: The design for the Te Wero lifting bridge.