Yes to a new Cambridge bridge – as long as it’s done right

There’s been a lot more noise recently about the need for an additional river crossing in Cambridge, and we shouldn’t be surprised that this is one of the key issues this election.  

Current and planned growth in Cambridge has pushed the issue to the fore. Residents are already experiencing traffic congestion at peak times during the day, and the Cambridge transport network is under pressure.

Residents, quite rightly, want to see a plan in place to future-proof traffic movement in and around Cambridge. But we need to be realistic here; neither I nor any other candidate can promise that a third river crossing in Cambridge will be built fast after being elected, let alone guarantee it will be built at all. None of us can “promise” to just “get it done”.

The option to construct another bridge is definitely something I’m strongly in favour of, however, we must consider the large and complex context.  There are many moving parts to the potential development of a third river crossing, and we must get this right. 

The good news is that work is already underway on this issue.

This week Waipā District Council’s elected members endorsed the scope of work for a business case that is needed to progress the development of the bridge. We anticipate this process will take around 12 months to do properly, and we have a proposed working group including elected members and stakeholders ready to kick this off.  

The group will, with the assistance of technical specialists, delve into the problems and benefits, look at a range of options, build a financial case around each option and then propose a preferred way forward.  

In the course of doing this, a preferred location for the bridge will be arrived at which delivers the most benefits and has the least environmental impact.

Then there are huge considerations (and implications) around funding and financing the bridge

The $70 million figure which had previously been bandied around for the build are merely indicative figures at this stage and were arrived at using some work done during the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan. The rating impact figures came out of this work also. Obviously, these figures are over four years ago now, and a lot has changed since then.   

These figures were arrived at without having a clear idea of location, which will significantly influence the cost because you have to take into consideration things like:

  1. The height and length of the bridge
  2. Terrain and earthworks required
  3. Existing roading infrastructure
  4. Property acquisition (if required)

These are just some of the factors to think about, and until we have all options for a location, it really is impossible to give any greater level of certainty around cost. However, this is what the business case will do.

We have to go down this track because we need Waka Kotahi to co-fund the project.  Their current Financial Assistance Rate for Waipā is 51%, so it is well worth us doing all this work so we can secure those funds. After all, that’s what we pay fuel tax for!

If elected as Mayor, I will ensure that this process is robust and followed through properly and transparently and that it remains on track. It is important that we find solutions to Cambridge’s current and future transport woes, but in doing so we maximise any financial assistance available.

Want to hear more about the business case?

If you’d like to learn more about the scope of the business case, the Service Delivery Committee meeting on 16 August 2022 was live-streamed and there was some great discussion around the table on the matter. Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/CY59vQtbybw?t=894

All agendas and minutes are also available on the Waipā District Council website.

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