Scrap the proposed bridge
27 June 2021
by Chris Leitch, Leader
The government should scrap plans to build a $750 million walking and cycling bridge across the Waitemata Harbour and instead commission a continuous electric ferry service to transport pedestrians and cyclists across it instead.
Apart from the cost, which will reach $850 million by the time it is constructed, the bridge option has far too many negatives.
Not the least is that it is likely to be closed off when frequent storms, such as the one that closed the bridge itself last year when a truck overturned, funnel their way down the Waitemata harbour.
Even if the cost of the ferry service was $10 million per year, the government could fully subsidise it for the next 75 years and it would still be cheaper than building a bridge.
At a time when the construction sector is already struggling to recruit the skilled staff it needs, and having the specialist equipment available, building another bridge simply adds to a problem that is already leading to other projects being put on the backburner.
The EV ferry service could provide another point of departure and arrival for North Shore residents at Westhaven in addition to the downtown ferry terminal.
A ferry solution is used successfully in a number of other countries and is a much lower carbon footprint option than a massive concrete and steel bridge structure.
Auckland's EV Maritime and McMullen & Wing are experienced in the design and construction of electric ferries and their expertise should be harnessed to construct the vessels.
That would boost New Zealand's boat building industry and open up the potential to gain export markets for the type of vessel that might be put into service on a cross harbour pedestrian and cycling ferry service.
The harbour trip would also be a tourist attraction for visitors from across the country and overseas.