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Cycleway costs soar

BY RHIANNON HORRELL
Last updated 05:00 06/05/2009
Photo: JASON OXENHAM

PEDALLING ALONG: Mt Roskill Community Board chairman Richard Barter, left, and cycling advocate John Gregory are keen to see the cycleway complete.

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A budget blowout costing hundreds of thousands of dollars for the completion of a cycleway alongside the new State Highway 20 extension has left community members wondering how the cost can be justified.

Mt Roskill Community Board chairman Richard Barter believes that part of the blowout stems from the cost of a toilet block, which he believes would cost $280,000.

Councillor John Lister says he understands that about $500,000 was needed for special bluestone walls, about $50,000 for a barbecue and another significant cost for vegetation.

Mr Barter says the path itself would only cost $300,000.

"It’s ridiculous, most of the money is paperwork."

Only a small stretch of the cycleway between Dominion Rd and May Rd, running through Winstone Park, is still to be completed.

The Auckland City Council is revisiting the project after issues arose over funding the 360 metre-long path.

The council says the estimate of the final design came in at $2 million, after initial costings in 2006 put the figure at $1.2m.

It says additional works worth $900,000 included fencing and a gate, stone work, planting, landscaping and a Maori carving among other things.

"It blew the cost out of the water," says Mr Barter.

Transport committee chairman Ken Baguley says the council was not satisfied the initial design and costs provided value for money.

"Council officers are revisiting the project to find a more cost-effective solution," he says.

"A number of aspects of the design featured custom-built solutions as opposed to more readily available products and materials. This pushed the cost up considerably.

"In revisiting the design, the council will balance the needs of local stakeholders with the requirement to provide value for money to the ratepayer."

Mr Barter says about $1.6m had been approved for the project in a transport committee meeting in November.

"It is very sad that the motorway will open and I have been waiting for 13 years for the cycleway," he says.

Mt Roskill resident and cycling advocate John Gregory says he was surprised to hear the project was in jeopardy.

"I had not the slightest doubt that it would go ahead," he says.

Barbara Cuthbert, co-chair of Cycle Action Auckland, also says it is frustrating to hear that the job is on hold.

"A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. We could see that State Highway 20 was nearly complete and have been wondering what’s happened with the cycleway," she says.

"It is a beautiful cycleway and this uncompleted section is hugely important."

Ngati Whatua spokesman Ngarimu Blair says he hopes the parties can work together to bring the project to fruition within November’s agreed funding plan.

"It has to happen in one go, not in stages."

The council says it aims to deliver the project in the next financial year.

"There are a number of alternative routes for cyclists to navigate around this section and to reconnect with the Waikaraka cycleway network," says Mr Baguley.

Council officers will report their revised solutions to the transport committee tomorrow.

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