LocalMatters       

Price plunges for Warkworth park and ride

Posted at 8:15am Tuesday 15 Jun, 2021

An artist’s impression of the  Community Transport Hub.
An artist's impression of the Community Transport Hub.

The estimated cost to build a park and ride facility north of Warkworth has significantly dropped following a tender process, but the new figures have done little to allay the concerns of project sceptics.

The park and ride – now officially known as the Warkworth Community Transport Hub – is  expected to cost $3.7 million down from initial estimates of about $5 million.

The project is being funded by the Rodney Local Board from its transport targeted rate – an additional rate imposed on Rodney ratepayers to fund transport projects.

Civil construction company Higgins has won the contract to build the transport hub, which will be located on the old Atlas site on State Highway 1. It's hoped construction will start in mid-June next year.

The hub will feature 137 car parks, a bus layover, two bus stops, a signalised pedestrian crossing across SH1, two toilet blocks, bike parking, lighting and CCTV safety cameras.

Auckland Transport's (AT) projects delivery director David Nelson said the hub would support local bus services and help address parking congestion in Warkworth.

Rodney Local Board deputy chair Beth Houlbrooke says demand for the hub would likely increase further once the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway was complete, especially if the new motorway is tolled.

“There will be more people wanting to catch the bus and car pool,” she said.

Ms Houlbrooke was also happy the competitive tender process had cut costs, which will leave the Rodney Local Board with $1.3 million targeted rate money to invest in other transport projects.

Ms Houlbrooke again refuted a suggestion that money for a transport hub might be better spent improving Rodney roads, such as sealing more of them.

She said the issue had been thrashed out many times. She said money from the transport targeted rate would never have been near enough to seal all of Rodney's roads

“There was still going to be a bunch of unhappy people,” she said.

Moreover, she said the process would have been subject to political interference, since decisions on road improvements would have been decided at board level, rather than more objective criteria established independent of such political concerns by AT.

She said as a result of Board discussions with AT on this issue, it was decided that the Board would use the transport targeted rate to concentrate on footpaths and public transport, and AT would boost its investment in road sealing.

Ms Houlbrooke said it was just unfortunate that Covid-19 came along, forcing AT to cut back on that investment.

Meanwhile, Board member Tim Holdgate, a transport hub sceptic, was  unimpressed the project cost was less than expected, saying the big disparity between the estimated cost and the actual cost raised concerns – either the original $5 million figure was just a guess or else the winning tender had cut corners.  

“Are they only delivering half a park and ride?” he said.      

He said he was uncomfortable that, as a Rodney Local Board member, he had not seen any detail on the tender process and would press for the Board to have a workshop on the issue.

Mr Holdgate, together with fellow board member Colin Smith, earlier voted to put the park and ride on hold.

Mr Holdgate says in these austere times, a park and ride ought to be re-evaluated, particularly when there are other pressing priorities such as the need for road and footpath improvements.    

However, Mr Smith and Mr Holdgate were defeated 7-2 when the motion was put to a Board meeting back in March.

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