Motorway bridge awaits funding

Young Guile Vegas Jackson was hit and killed by a van while trying to cross the northwestern motorway just after 11pm on October 20, 2004.

The 11-year-old’s death prompted calls for a pedestrian bridge that were eventually supported by a coroner investigating the tragedy.

But still there is no bridge.

Guile’s death occurred near a stormwater culvert at Westgate which was frequently used by schoolchildren and teenagers to cross under the motorway to West Harbour.

The West Harbour youth found it easier to take the direct route across the road at night.

Auckland coroner Murray Jamieson called for the construction of an overbridge after looking into the case in 2005.

The council and Transit New Zealand – now called the NZ Transport Authority – also discussed the idea which was opposed by some groups who said it was a knee-jerk reaction to one fatality.

Councillor Linda Cooper is still keen to see the bridge built, especially with work on the State Highway 18 extension at the end of the motorway likely to affect alternative pedestrian access to Westgate.

Ms Cooper says fencing adjoining the spot where Guile was killed was strengthened after the accident and the stormwater culvert was sealed off.

But neither action has stopped pedestrians playing russian roulette crossing the motorway.

Ms Cooper says an average of 29 people a day still cross the motorway.

She says a survey of Massey residents late last year showed overwhelming support for a footbridge.

"Let’s give people what they want," she says.

"Our community and the council want a commitment from the NZ Transport Authority and we’re willing to work with them to realise this project."

Authority northern operations manager Joseph Flanagan says the government department is looking at the feasibility of the overbridge but a cost estimate has yet to be finalised.

"But we’re working with our partners and we’re planning to seek funding as soon as possible."

He says the authority will seek funding for the 2009-2010 financial year and will start construction as soon as the money is secured.

The authority met members of the Massey Community Board, West Harbour School, Massey High School, Housing New Zealand and Waitakere City Council representatives in August to discuss the plan.

Norwest News