4 Jun 2021

Second Auckland bridge plan a 'kick in the teeth' for Aucklanders - Collins

3:41 pm on 4 June 2021

The announcement of a second harbour bridge in Auckland is a kick in the teeth considering other projects have been cancelled, National Party leader Judith Collins says.

The government this morning confirmed it wanted to build a new separate bridge for cyclists and walkers alongside the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Collins responded at the Westhaven Marina on central Auckland's waterfront, saying the decision was "extremely disappointing" for those in the south of Auckland, especially considering other projects that had been cancelled or delayed.

"Mill Road has been now cancelled again by the government after being put on hold, resurrected and now cancelled."

She said a train station at Drury and been cancelled and that the widening of State Highway 1 from Papakura to Drury had also been cancelled.

But a spokesperson from the Ministry of Transport said that the government "had actually funded an additional train station (so there will be three, not two) in Drury and construction is already under way on SH1 Papakura to Drury South Stage One".

"I see the most ridiculous decisions going on and it seems to have nothing to do with economic growth," Collins said.

"It's a nice to have."

She said a new replacement bridge that was strong and widened for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists would "only cost $2 billion".

"We have heard evidence from NZTA... that a new inline bridge would be able to be built beside the harbour bridge now that would cost $1b or a widened one that could take in a cycleway for $2b. Instead, the government is going to spend close to $700m on simply a new cycleway and walkway."

"How many people are seriously going to be taking their kids to school, the netball team to sport ... across the bridge?"

Auckland's Harbour Bridge during the Covid-19 alert level four lockdown.

File image. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Transport Minister Michael Wood said, in a statement, that geotechnical investigations and testing had found that adding a structure to the existing bridge was not possible.

"We need this transport connection to move ahead but it isn't technically possible to attach it to the existing bridge without putting the whole structure at risk.

"A stand-alone structure is the safest option that will not only provide a walking and cycling option for commuters but creates an outstanding piece of tourism infrastructure."

The bridge was expected to cost about $685 million plus another $100m for the land section of the route. About 5000 people a day were expected to use it.

The government was planning to follow it with another harbour crossing - a tunnel for vehicles.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the bridge was a sustainable, enduring project that would last for generations.

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