NZTA drags its feet on Wellsford footbridge
Posted at 9:00am Wednesday 05 May, 2021
Heavy vehicles speed through at 70kph.
The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) remains uncommitted to a $1.4 million footpath project on State Highway 1 in Wellsford.
Rodney Local Board has agreed to spend funds raised from the Rodney Targeted Rate on the project, but needs a green light from by both NZTA and KiwiRail before it can start.
Auckland Transport, KiwiRail, Rodney Local Board and Wellsford Plus representatives, as well as local MPs, met in Wellsford last month to reach consensus on how to get the project underway. A notable absence at the meeting was NZTA.
The project seeks to provide a safe link from the town to recreational facilities at Centennial Park.
Currently, pedestrians walking down the eastern side of Rodney Street have to cross State Highway 1 in order to cross the bridge, and then cross the highway again to get to Centennial Park.
Board member Colin Smith says there have been accidents in recent years, and the absence of a safe pathway is impeding residents from using the park.
“It's hard for kids to cross when there's 30,000 vehicle movements a day on the road,” he says.
Board member Beth Houlbrooke says although the Board is committed to the project, she wants NZTA to contribute funds, as it is their bridge and highway.
She says Wellsford raises around $400,000 each year from the targeted rate, so this project will consume around four years' worth of funds.
“We are not going to hold up this project because we have promised it to Wellsford,” she says.
“The Board has committed the funds, but it would be great to be able to reserve some of the money for other projects in Wellsford.”
Ms Houlbrooke says getting transport projects done in Wellsford is often difficult because it is on the main highway, which requires the involvement of central government agencies.
“This is why Wellsford sometimes misses out. We need support from the Government and local MPs.”
Kaipara ki Mahurangi MP Chris Penk says he will approach NZTA and KiwiRail to advocate for the footpath.
“It is an example of where central government should support local communities to achieve their aspirations by allowing access to happen,” Mr Penk says.
Mr Smith says the Rodney Local Board has already spent $80,000 on a “greenway plan” for the footpath project, which would create a new path from Rodney Street to Centennial Park Road.