The Government has listened to feedback from New Zealanders and has decided not to proceed with the standalone bridge component of the Northern Pathway project and reallocate the funding to other transport projects that reduce emissions and congestion including the Eastern busway, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today.
“The Government has both listened and acted, meaning that the Northern Pathway standalone bridge will not be going ahead,” Michael Wood said
“The Government is committed to providing better access to walking and cycling and reducing greenhouse emissions through our transport investments, but this particular project won’t be part of that mix. It didn’t get the public support needed for a project of its scale and we acknowledge that.
“Work will continue on a public transport-led additional harbour crossing. We allocated $60 million in the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) earlier this year for planning work and property acquisition to occur.
“The cancellation of the standalone bridge means we can support a range of other projects consistent with our plan for a transport system that both reduces emissions and supports new housing,” Michael Wood said.
Funding will be allocated across four main categories:
Continued work to improve pedestrian and cycle access across the Waitemata
Delivering high priority transport projects in Auckland
Accelerating the rollout of the Auckland strategic cycling network
Delivering a range of high quality regional transport projects
“Auckland will continue to see significant investment to support the economic recovery and get the city moving – which is why it’s our intention to use part of this funding to bring the Eastern Busway forward,” Michael Wood said.
“East Auckland can’t afford to wait longer for better public transport and I want to acknowledge Mayor Phil Goff and list MP Naisi Chen for their advocacy on this issue. This project will achieve similar objectives to the bridge of reducing emissions and congestion.
“Another project we want to bring forward to give East Aucklanders more choices is a 1.9km link between Glen Innes and Panmure to connect the new Eastern Busway cycleway with the Glen Innes to Tamaki cycleway. Additional work will occur in the coming months to identify other key links in the Auckland strategic cycling network that can be delivered.
“We will also continue to recognise the importance of better pedestrian and cycling access across the Waitemata.
“The Seapath cycleway project will continue, with some re-design at the harbour bridge end. We will run a short process to investigate lower cost options to create a connection for walking and cycling across the Waitematā before the additional harbour crossing is built.
“I know there will be calls from some to permanently allocate a lane on the existing bridge for walking and cycling but we will not be pursuing this option. Decisions about access to the state highway network formally sit with the Waka Kotahi Board and I have now formally written to them to express my support for a temporary trial that could occur over the quiet summer holiday months, subject to safety considerations being met.
“We also plan to invest $2 million into the Ashburton Rail Hub to unlock a $14 million upgrade to freight operations in the area. This partnership with local freight company Wareing Group, KiwiRail and Ashburton District Council will triple rail freight capacity, helping to get more trucks off the road, reducing emissions, and supporting the regional economy.
“Local MP Jo Luxton has been central to bringing partners together to get the Ashburton Rail Hub moving and I thank her for that work. Over the next few months further work will be undertaken to confirm and fund additional high-quality regional projects that support de-carbonisation and housing objectives.
“This re-allocation of funding substantively completes a series of decisions that the Government has made to get the NZ Upgrade Programme (NZUP) back on track this year. We have made a number of hard decisions to take account of the need to decarbonise transport, to manage escalating costs, and to respond to clear public views.
“NZUP is now moving ahead strongly with five projects completed, nine projects in construction, 18 in design and consenting, and over 900 people employed up and down New Zealand.
“I am also pleased to confirm that recent Climate Impact Assessments show that with recent government decisions, NZUP now will result in a net emissions reduction.
“With most of the major decisions now made, I look forward to the Programme continuing to support our economic recovery while delivering better and lower carbon transport outcomes for New Zealanders,” Michael Wood said.