OPINION: In the June 29, 1996, edition of the-then Manawatu Evening Standard there is a letter from IE Vautier.
The topic is whether a second bridge across the Manawatu River should be built. In the mind of IE Vautier it should have been.
They wrote: "Think of the miles that would have been saved if the river had been bridged 70 years ago. It is a crazy idea not to plan two bridges."
Around the same time another letter writer, Peter Read, said Palmerston North City Council was "obsessed" with getting central government to pay for a new, expensive second bridge and had failed to do its homework.
At that stage, the second bridge was not a new idea, not by any stretch, but since then it has been one of the wishful thinking projects thrown firmly on the backburner.
It has remained on the back pages of long-term plans and has been the subject of cost-benefit ratios, reports, feasibility studies and countless hours of staff work. All for very little.
Palmerston North's council is by no means alone; every territorial authority has some sort of pet project that lingers, but never sees the light of day.
It may not seem like a big deal to have a pipedream, but when it comes to councils and spending public money it is a big deal.
Keeping those projects "alive" costs.
All those reports and all those hours over the years add up to a lot of money, and for what?
PNCC rightly, if somewhat belatedly, concedes that the bridge that would link Staces Rd to Te Matai Rd was basically never going to happen, especially with a price tag around $80 million.
The bridge would be nice to have but, even in rosier economic times, the numbers and the population to pay for it simply wouldn't stack up.
It may have been a good idea and there's no doubt it would benefit the city but it is unlikely to ever happen now as core infrastructure such as bridges only go up in price.
It's better to be pragmatic and annoy people who back the project once, rather than lead everyone on because there's a minuscule chance it might happen.
ONE MORE THING
Bad summer, great autumn, then – bam – right into winter. We know the cold stuff is always going to come but that doesn't stop people from tensing up when a chilly wind goes right through them. Manawatu might have missed the worst of the rough weather around the country but it still wasn't pleasant.
We're only a couple of weeks away from the shortest day, a day where the most optimistic summer lovers think it's all downhill to warmer days.
- © Fairfax NZ News