Mt Al­bert bridge fund­ing un­der threat

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

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.

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