New bridge for Flat Bush School Road

Primary school gets new bridge after 11 months of discussion. Times photo

Te Uho te Nikau Primary School’s pleas for help have been answered.

The Howick Local Board has allocated more than $500,000 in funding to build a temporary pedestrian bridge on Flat Bush School Road to provide safe access to the primary school.

This follows 11 months of discussions between the school, Auckland Transport (AT) and the Howick Local Board on ways to improve safety conditions for students walking to and from the new school.

The current bridge access to the school is narrow with no footpaths.

Board of Trustees chair Karen Gibson pleaded with the board at Monday night’s board meeting to make a decision on a new and safe pedestrian bridge.

“We need to see the board moving decisively tonight to remedy the daily situation where five-year-old pedestrians continue to dice with 3m wide concrete trucks on a 7.5m wide bridge as they walk to and from school every day,” she said.

Soon after, as set out on the agenda, the board agreed to use $520,000 from the Community Safety Fund to fund this project.

Gibson says this is a big win for the school and for the community.

“We are thrilled. The safety of our students is our top priority and we have fought for this for so long.

“We are glad the board has come to realise this bridge is a really important priority.”

Local Board chair David Collings says the board looked at a number of projects before making this decision and they are pleased to be able to use this [Community Safety Fund] in a manner which clearly demonstrates a safety benefit to the community.

Collings said at the meeting that these projects are “detailed, complex and expensive, but the safety of our young people has to come first”.

Local Board member Mike Turinsky says building the bridge was a no brainer, funding the bridge was the challenge.

Turinsky, who has witnessed a student being hit by a car outside Botany Downs Secondary College, says it was an experience he never wants to have again.

“I don’t want another child hit by a car. Luckily we were only dealing with bumps, bruises and contusions that day but it might have been very much worse, so I’m delighted we are moving forward with this.”

AT says the bridge will be a wooden structure ‘clipped’ to the side of the bridge and says the temporary bridge will last several years until the existing bridge is replaced.

Auckland Transport is also costing replacing the existing bridge. The dates for building the temporary bridge are not yet available.

The meeting also saw funding allocated to improving the crossing facilities for students at Botany Downs Secondary College.

Initially it was thought the project would not be able to take place without the school giving up land to allow road layout changes.

However an AT representative said its engineers had come up with a design that would enable work to be done without the need for that.