Bridges issue fires up candidates
With the election just weeks away, candidates are getting fired up over Northland’s contentious bridges.
National’s Matt King says Winston Peters is spreading mistruths about the Government’s promise to upgrade ten Northland bridges.
The Government pledged to build ten double-lane bridges across Northland in the 2015 byelection, which they ultimately lost to New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.
King says the promise was made for the bridges to be completed over a six year period. Funding has been approved to replace the Hardies and Anderson bridges at Matakohe between Wellsford and Dargaville and one at Taipa.
‘‘The design and building contracts approval has been given, to do the first four bridges and funding has been released for three,’’ King says.
Civil construction firm Fulton Hogan and engineer Aurecon were awarded the $40.7m contract for the works at Matakohe and Taipa. This contract could be extended to include the Kaeo construction.
Peters is adamant nothing has been done on the bridges.
‘‘Two and a half years [after the pledge] and they have turned the sods at Matakohe. Nothing has been done. Seven bridges have gone missing - Waimamaku, what’s happened to them?
A sod-turning ceremony was held at Matakohe in April, with earthworks due to start in October, if the weather permits, King says. Taipa’s bridge construction is expected to begin later this year, while Kaeo’s new bridge was expected to get underway late 2018.
With the first three bridges set to cost $40.7m and the original cost of all ten bridges (outlined in 2015) set to be between $32m and $69m, King conceded that the orig- inal figures were wrong and an estimate. King said a 3km realignment of the road at Matakohe had added to the cost.
‘‘Show us the NZTA timetable on when it’s going to happen and where is the engineering work that backs it up?’’ Peters says. ‘‘The locals want them [National] to keep their promise, two and a half years after the promise was made.’’
Funding for the remaining six bridges were not included in the Land Transport programme announced in 2015 after the byelection.