Wednesday, 23 Jun 2021

National MP Christopher Luxon says Auckland Harbour cycle bridge is Government’s ‘jumping the shark’ moment

National MP Christopher Luxon says the Government has “jumped the shark” by putting up to fund a cycle bridge across the Waitemata Harbour while abandoning roading projects in east and south Auckland.

In the transport and infrastructure select committee on Thursday, Transport Minister Michael Wood defended the $785 million for the Northern Pathway and a cycling and pedestrian bridge to be built alongside the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

That was announced as part of the Government’s rejigged infrastructure programme after recostings of the original transport package took it from $6.8 billion to $12.8b.

That led to the decision to build the cycle bridge – but to scrap or downgrade projects such as Mill Rd highway in Papakura, for which the costings had doubled up to $3.5 billion.

Luxon, the MP for Botany, said he accepted there were ideological differences over transport.

“But an Aucklander today, you’ve got a mum trying to do a school run and a tradie trying to get from Epsom to Albany to Onehunga, when you sit there and say you’re going to spend $800m on walking and cycling. It’s honestly a jump the shark, Kiwibuild sort of moment where they’re going to look at it and say ‘this just does not make any sense’.”

Luxon asked what the business case for the cycle bridge was – the Government is yet to provide a cost-benefit analysis.

Wood said a lot of attention was going on the cycle bridge when it was only a small part of a much larger infrastructure package – the bulk of which was for roads.

He said for decades almost all of the transport and infrastructure spending in Auckland had gone on roads and while new roads eased up congestion for a period, they also served to add more cars into the network. “That’s how we’ve got into this mess in the first place.”

He said there were still roading projects underway, including improving links such as Lake Rd in the north, and Lincoln Rd in the west.

“One could look at the investment in the Northern Pathway as significant in its own right, and it is. But it’s in the context of a broader series of investments.”

Wood had some support from Green MP Julie Ann Genter, who was critical of the low pace of cycleway developments in Auckland and Wellington.

Wood said the Government still intended to go ahead with second harbour crossing in the 2030s, but was yet to decide whether that would be for rail only or include some capacity for vehicles. Labour has already signalled it could only cater to rail – and Wood said adding cars would only add to congestion in the CBD.

An initial $40m had been allocated for initial work and property acquisitions.

Transport officials have warned for at least a decade that the use of the current Auckland Harbour Bridge will eventually have to be restricted because of the inability to strengthen it further.

Wood also said the estimates for light rail would see it up and running in the next six to eight years, and remained convinced that rail was the right option to use. He said the bus congestion in Auckland’s CBD was already high and forecast to grow, whereas rail could carry a lot more people without the same issue.

Source: Read Full Article

Best News