Transport committee meet to consider bridge options
Campaigners face the second round today in the battle for walkers and cyclists to use the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Options and costs for the project are to be considered by the Auckland Regional Council’s transport committee this morning.
Last week their counterparts at Auckland City Council dismissed the walkway and cycleway as too pricey.
Get Across campaign leader Bevan Woodward says that decision was “short sighted” and hoped it wouldn’t be repeated today.
“We are hoping the other four project partners will continue with their support,” he says.
Mr Woodward says the city council’s transport committee back-tracked without warning on its December decision to support the project.
His group has yet to see a draft of the multi-agency report, which is still to be finished.
“It’s a real concern to us that these decisions are being made when we don’t have the full report,” Mr Woodward says.
He says legal action is being considered but will be an “option of last resort”.
The report was funded by Auckland city and regional councils, North Shore City Council, the New Zealand Transport Agency, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority.
Study director Richard Hancy says it’s still being written, but the main work is complete.
Partner groups, including Get Across, have been involved during the process and briefed on its findings, he says.
City council transport committee chairman Ken Baguley says his advice was the report had been through the proper process.
The committee’s position changed since December because at that stage costs were not available.
The $40 million price tag for the best option put forward last week is too expensive, he says.
“But it’s not Auckland city’s call at the end of the day,” Mr Baguley says.
“If all the other councils thought it was a brilliant idea and if Auckland was out on its own, then so be it.
“Auckland would be up for $1.3m for the pathway to the bridge and we’d seriously look at that.”
Regional council officers recommend supporting the project, and advocate the $23.8m “no widening” option, which provides close to minimum lane width for vehicles.
Transport committee chairwoman Christine Rose said last week no other project could send such a clear message about getting people out of cars.
“It’s the bridge’s 50th birthday next year. It’s belonged to cars for half a century. It’s time to open the bridge up.”