Many Aucklanders would wonder why tolls were ever taken off the harbour bridge, mayor Len Brown says.
But the possibility of reintroducing tolls on the existing bridge to pay in advance for an additional Waitemata Harbour crossing isn't something the mayor is willing to expand on just yet.
Mr Brown raised the idea during a visit to Glenfield College where he questioned students on important issues facing the city.
He told students that a second harbour crossing in the next 10 to 15 years and the possibility of tolling the harbour bridge to fund the project is one option that's being looked into.
The North Shore Times has since asked him if he is talking about tolling the existing harbour bridge before the new one was built. But Mr Brown says a number of funding options are still being investigated.
"Billions of dollars of investment in transport infrastructure is required to get Auckland moving and unleash the potential of all of Auckland, including the North Shore, he says.
"It would be unfair to burden taxpayers and ratepayers with all that cost and that's why we are now looking at alternatives."
Mr Brown says many Aucklanders might question why tolls were ever taken off the bridge.
"Any decision about alternative funding options, including tolls, is some way off," he says.
A variety of options for alternative funding of transport infrastructure, including an additional harbour crossing have been put out for public consultation.
Submissions are being considered and an announcement on the next stage in that process is expected soon.
Mr Brown says he will not talk about his preferences for alternative funding until that time.
Alternative sites, routes and methods for providing an additional Waitemata Harbour crossing have been under consideration for over 20 years, since 1986.
There have been five separate studies.
The last, in 2008, saw five regional partners, including NZTA's predecessor Transit NZ, Auckland and North Shore City Councils, Auckland Regional Council and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, consider 159 crossing options.
A 2010 study followed a request from the minister of transport for the NZTA to more closely examine the relative costs and benefits of tunnel and bridge crossings and also to support route protection across the Waitemata Harbour.
The road bridge cost estimate then was $3.9 billion and the road tunnel cost estimate is $5.3b, with a further $1.6b for separate rail tunnels.
Any additional crossing of the Waitemata Harbour will be one of New Zealand's largest infrastructure projects.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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