Fee threatens path feasibility

22:44, Jun 10 2013
Harbour Bridge
SKY HIGH: SkyPath representative Bevan Woodward says an annual fee of $800,000 for access to Westhaven Drive would drive up the price for the public.

Haggling over an $800,000 annual fee for public access is jeopardising the proposed SkyPath, Bevan Woodward says.

Westhaven Marina Users Association wants to charge for public access to Westhaven Drive on the St Mary's Bay side of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Mr Woodward says.

The project manager for the $28 million pedestrian and cycle path says the fee "doesn't make the project feasible".

The proposed path would run underneath the harbour bridge's city-side clip-on lane, with increased traffic and an exit in Northcote Pt a top issue.

The toll for users would have to increase from $2 to an estimated $3.50 to cover it.

"I'm concerned that this kind of attitude is going to risk what would be a wonderful facility for Auckland," Mr Woodward says.

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"When people start haggling for money like this, it's inherently wrong.

"They believe it's their territory. Legally, it's a public road."

The demand is not holding the project back, he says, but it is "jeopardising" the work that groups, such as the trust and Waterfront Auckland, want to do in Westhaven.

When the North Shore Times contacted Trevor Dunn, chairman of the Westhaven group, he would not confirm or deny if the group had asked for a fee.

"We're a representative body. We cannot charge a fee, our members pay fees."

But official notes from a meeting between SkyPath representatives and Mr Dunn show the group said it "can invite [SkyPath] to be part of Westhaven but it will involve payment of a fee".

Mr Woodward hopes another solution can be found.

An agreement between SkyPath and Auckland Council on how to deliver the project and its funding is being worked on.

Mr Woodward says the council is "dragging its heels" which may delay the project until next year.

Kaipatiki Local Board member Vivienne Keohane has raised concerns the wind tunnel testing for the proposed SkyPath is out of date. The last official report is from 2008.

Mr Woodward says the trust wants testing done again. Previous testing was for a pathway more exposed to the elements.

North Shore Times