School finally getting pedestrian bridge

Howick Local Board chairperson Adele White, left, and Te Uho o te Nikau Primary School principal Melissa Bland are pleased a pedestrian crossing is finally being built near the school. Times photo Wayne Martin

An east Auckland school principal says an enraged motorist picked up and threw orange traffic cones at her in reaction to the traffic management outside her school.

“He was angry because he had to wait two minutes at a light,” Te Uho o te Nikau Primary School principal Melissa Bland says of the incident last year.

Bland says she’s also had drivers get out of their vehicles and knock over steel barriers placed outside the school to control the flow of traffic as part of ongoing work to a nearby footpath.

In an effort to improve safety for pupils who walk to and from class, Auckland Transport (AT) is spending $540,000 to install a new pedestrian bridge near the school in Flat Bush School Road.

Work on the project, which is supported by the Howick Local Board, is under way following public feedback AT gathered last year.

Building the bridge on the school’s northern side means it will connect to existing footpaths and utilise an existing raised zebra crossing as a safe point for people to cross.

Bland says the project is “long overdue” and the local community is “absolutely delighted” the pedestrian bridge is finally being constructed.

“We cannot wait to see our learners and their families being able to walk safely in this community, whether riding their bikes, walking to and from school, or just exercising together.”

Bland says she thanks AT and the local board “for their work on making this project a priority”.

Board chairperson Adele White says she and her colleagues were initially approached by Te Uho o te Nikau’s foundation board, supported by locals and the school community, to express its concerns about the safety of kids walking to school.

“It came as a huge surprise to the local board to find this road posed such a safety risk and had not been upgraded prior to the school being built,” White says.

“We’re glad AT has acted on their concerns.

“Even though delayed because of Covid-19, we hope this bridge will provide the kids and their families the safety they all deserve on the roads.”

Bland says the pedestrian bridge will make walking or cycling to and from school “so much safer” for her pupils.

“We have had people stop, get out of their cars, and throw the gates over.

“We were always worried that if a truck hit the barrier there’s no protection for the children.

“We’ve had to do a lot of education with the kids.

“We had two near misses when the speed limit was still 100km/h. That was really scary and we started to panic. The trucks are motoring down there.”

Bland strongly urges motorists who travel along Flat Bush School Road to slow down.

“If you have children, would you do this [speed] around your own child’s school?

“And the feeling they would have if they hit a child. We are trying to keep our kids safe.”

AT group manager of network management Randhir Karma says the local board nominated the pedestrian bridge to address community safety concerns.

The work is expected to be completed by the end of June, according to AT.