SkyPath showcases new funding model

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 11:50 19/02/2014
Fairfax NZ

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says an announcement on the Harbour Bridge Skypath is likely in the next few weeks.

SkyPath
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BEAUTIFUL VISTAS: Six viewing bays, one above each pier along the Auckland Harbour Bridge, will be six metres wide.

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The Auckland Council is in the final stages of negotiating the SkyPath's public-private partnership.

The planned cycleway and walkway across Auckland's harbour bridge will stretch from St Heliers to Devonport.

Speaking after his state of the city address at the Greater East Tamaki Business Association breakfast, Auckland Mayor Len Brown said the council would be ready to announce an agreement with the private sector to finance the SkyPath within the next two weeks.

The cost of the project was estimated to be $33 million, Brown said.

The funding partnership would be with a single entity, he said.

There had been "significant interest" from parties wanting to partner with the council to fund the SkyPath, Auckland's first public-private partnership (PPP), Brown said.

"This is a chance to cut our teeth on PPPs and show that we can deliver real value for money and better outcomes for ratepayers," Brown said.

The private funder would be repaid over 20 to 30 years, he said.

While the private sector would help fund the project, the council would retain ownership of the harbour bridge and the SkyPath.

"The message to Auckland's ratepayers is that we'll never sell the underlying asset. It's about how you build it and who pays for it."

Brown said users would pay $1 or $2 to use the SkyPath.

"It was never going to be a project that was free."

PPPs would drive growth and progress transport developments in Auckland, Brown said.

For Auckland to achieve the infrastructure build it needed it would have to borrow money from the private sector.

"We don't have the balance sheet."

The City Rail Link (CRL) project, which was approved by the Government last year, could also be funded through a PPP, he said.

The project would cost an estimated $2.86 billion.

"Without the CRL, by 2021 Auckland's bus network will have reached capacity and speeds on city roads will have dropped to a creeping 7kmh during peak time."

The CRL would offer twice as many train journeys, he said.

The Government's proposed start date for construction in 2020 was too long to wait, Brown said.

The council wanted work to start in 2016 and finish by 2021.

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