Mt Albert bridge funding under threat
News that an integral part of the Mt Albert town centre upgrade is facing the chop has riled residents and community leaders.
About 150 people turned up to a meeting on Monday night to put forward design options for the planned town plaza. It is to be built in what is now a car park next to 911 New North Rd.
They were told that at this stage there is no definite funding for a bridge to link the plaza with Mt Albert train station.
‘‘The No 1 expectation
of the residents is that the bridge would be built,’’ Mt Albert Residents Association co-chairman Francis Mortimer says.
‘‘The bridge is the one thing that if we don’t have, there is not really any point in the other stuff going ahead.
‘‘It’s supposed to bring people arriving in Mt Albert to the town centre,’’ he says.
Funding is set for the plaza and work is due to begin in the middle of the year.
But the bridge is to be funded separately as part of the second stage of work on the train station which aims to improve accessibility.
This project has been caught up in council plans to hold back $102 million of capital projects this financial year and re-evaluate them in a year’s time as part of the Long-Term Plan budget, now out for consultation.
‘‘So many people were walking out of the meeting.
‘‘I would like to ask people not to just be angry for the sake of being angry . . . but talk to your councillors and keep hammering it home that we want the funding for the bridge to be reinstated,’’ Mortimer says.
The Albert-Eden Local Board was only recently made aware of the situation, chairman Peter Haynes says.
‘‘We’d always been told that the funding is there and the bridge would be built.
‘‘Obviously we would have been jumping up and down screaming blue murder had we known.’’
The upgrade is a top priority for the board, he says, and they will meet Auckland Transport next week.
Haynes is encouraging people to have their say on the 10-year budget.
‘‘That’s where people can make their known,’’ he says.
Mt Albert MP David Shearer is fed up and says residents are rightfully angry.
‘‘The big blue facade [on the station] really is a monument to broken promises to Mt Albert. People are always coming up to me to talk about the town centre,’’ he says.
Shearer is aware of four businesses in the town centre that have closed in the past four months.
‘‘It’s just a town centre nobody wants to go to,’’ he says.