Auckland cycle, walking bridge: Cost outweighs benefits - new figures

"It means taxpayers will lose up to 60c for every dollar invested."
"It means taxpayers will lose up to 60c for every dollar invested." Photo credit: Supplied.

The cost of constructing the $785m standalone cycle and walking bridge over the Waitemata Harbour outweighs the benefits, according to new figures.

NZ Herald reports Waka Kotahi's initial assessment of the project's benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) is 0.4 to 0.6, meaning for every dollar spent, there'd be a 40-60 cent loss.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said the figures are likely to improve when a more detailed BCR is conducted.

"The previous government had never seemed to have any problem with signing off projects with lower BCRs, like the Mackays to Peka Peka section of the Kapiti expressway with a BCR of 0.2 and the Puhoi-Wellsford highway which one analysis had at 0.4," Wood told the NZ Herald

But ACT's David Seymour doubts the BCR will get better. 

"It means taxpayers will lose up to 60c for every dollar invested in this widely ridiculed project.

"We should be building infrastructure based on sound cost-benefit analysis, not just because the lycra lobby says it's a good idea."

In early June, Wood announced the Northern Pathway project, with the standalone bridge to be located on the eastern, city side of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. It's expected to take around five years to become operational and the $785 price tag includes land. 

"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," Wood said at the time. 

The next crossing is likely to be a tunnel and it would be "unsafe to have a walking and cycling link as part of it".

"That why we need to build the Northern Pathway. Auckland will not reach its potential without it."

But a second harbour bridge for walking and cycling is the wrong priority, National's Michael Woodhouse said.

"What Aucklanders really need is to ease congestion for cars and for goods, and there doesn't appear to be any plan to do that in respect of a second harbour crossing.

"Not only that, on Friday before a long weekend the [Government] quietly can some very crucial Auckland roading projects like Mill Rd."