Temporary or permanent? Plans for bridge still up in the air

Te Uho o Te Nikau Primary School is pushing for a temporary pedestrian bridge to be built on Flat Bush School Road while a decision is made on building a long term full vehicle/pedestrian bridge.

The Howick Local Board has a big decision to make on improving the safety conditions for Te Uho o Te Nikau Primary School students.

The school is pushing for a temporary pedestrian bridge to be built on Flat Bush School Road while a decision is made on building a long term full vehicle/pedestrian bridge.

Currently students as young as five have to cross a narrow bridge with no footpaths.

With a price tag of $1 million for the temporary bridge, last month’s board meeting heard some board members express concern that they would be wasting time and money on a temporary solution instead of jumping straight to a long-term solution.

The long term permanent bridge would take longer and would have a higher price tag.

Recently the board set aside $1m of their Transport Capital Fund (TCF) towards the project.

The board was planning to investigate using the Community Safety Fund (CSF) in June to fund the rest of the project; however it seems the project is not eligible.

School board of trustees member Karen Gibson says “it is clear now that this [permanent] bridge does not meet the criteria for the [CSF] as it is costed at over $1m.

“We have little ones crossing to and from school, and that bridge is an accident waiting to happen.”

According to the Auckland Transport (AT) monthly report in the Howick Local Board agenda, a permanent bridge cannot be covered by the CSF as “individual projects are to be no greater than $1 million”.

However the board can use the CSF for a temporary bridge, knowing the permanent bridge is part of the current Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP), albeit is not yet funded, an AT spokesperson has confirmed.

This means that the bridge will not be funded by AT within the life of the current RLTP.

The RLTP is reviewed every three years.

Howick Local Board chair, David Collings, says the board has asked AT to explore options for a temporary bridge and a long-term bridge and offer suggestion on which funds can be utilised for each.

“What the board will have to consider is going with an option that provides a better value for money for ratepayers but may take longer to achieve versus going with a short term option that can be built sooner but may end in spending a great deal more money in the long run,” he says.

Collings said it was the board responsibility to ensure they commit funds wisely to gain the most benefit for residents.

“In fact the board looked at a list of [other] projects at the workshop on Tuesday that could be eligible for funding out of the CSF and as good governors of the spending of public money we must consider all of these and not necessarily take the first cab off of the rank.”

Collings says the board will explore both options and make a decision based on the highest safety outcome and the greatest benefit to the wider community.

“My hope is that by putting up $1m out of our TCF and allocating nearly the same out of the CSF that we might tempt AT to bring the project ahead of time if the balance is not too much more; Remembering that NZTA is likely to fund 50 per cent of the project in the end.”