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Wood opposes SkyPath

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014
SkyPath
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NEARING APPROVAL: The design for the proposed SkyPath, using composite materials used in the marine industry and America’s Cup.

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George Wood

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The $31 million SkyPath cycleway has quietly entered its next phase.

A confidential Auckland Council meeting saw the 1km-long pathway project moved into the hands of chief executive Stephen Town for further scrutiny.

The pedestrian and cycle tunnel, which would sit under Auckland Harbour Bridge, was supported by all except North Shore's George Wood.

"I don't think the vote means all the councillors are convinced the SkyPath deal is one they can buy in to."

Mr Wood says he was told 5000 people a day would use SkyPath - a figure he is skeptical of. When the Waitemata Harbour tunnel crossing is finished after 2025, space on the bridge for a cycle path may be on offer, leaving SkyPath a "white elephant", he says.

But project director Bevan Woodward says waiting 11 years with only a "maybe" is not good enough.

SkyPath will be safer with easier access under the bridge, he says.

The 5000 figure is the expectation for a Saturday during summer holidays when a cruise ship berths, Mr Woodward says.

Visitors throughout the year will fluctuate, he says.

North Shore councillor Chris Darby says patronage figures are "conservative" and believes more will use it. If visitor numbers are exceeded it is cash back in the council's hands, he says.

The Morrison and Co Public Infrastructure Partnership Fund is bankrolling SkyPath. The $31m will be recouped by tolling of about $2 per person. The Auckland Harbour Bridge Pathway Trust, spearheading SkyPath, is asking the council to underwrite it. If revenue is 75 per cent below forecast, the council would be asked to top it up to 75 per cent.

Budgets are already tight but SkyPath would relieve and possibly boost revenue, according to the council. It will be gifted to the council after 20 years. Mr Woodward believes the Government may choose to buy SkyPath after five years.

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