$40m wall bill for cash-strapped city

BIG CITY: Auckland is already suffering under significant financial pressure.
BIG CITY: Auckland is already suffering under significant financial pressure.

A $40-million seismic upgrade to Auckland's downtown seawall is the latest expense for the cash-strapped city.

But the works, due to begin next year, need to be done because sections of the wall "may fail" in a moderate earthquake.

"We identified there's some risk with the sea wall between Princes Wharf and Queens Wharf," City Centre Integration group general manager Rick Walden said.

"The risk isn't huge but it has been identified that in a moderate seismic event the wall, in places, may fail.

"So the project is under way to [see if] the repair or replacement of those walls may be appropriate."

Auckland is already suffering under significant financial pressure. Auckland Council revealed on Monday the city needs to find $2.8 billion of savings if it wants to keep rate rises to 2.5 per cent.

Walden said the seawall repairs could take several months. Replacement of sections of the wall "may be appropriate".

Work has begun on immediate repairs to the at-risk section between Princes and Queens wharves – at a cost of about $400,000.

"It's being delayed slightly by this current storm but as soon as that's over and the sea state returns to something where contractors can work, they will be effecting those repairs over the next couple of months."

Ferries and other wharf activity would be largely unaffected, he said.

"It should be a relatively contained piece of work but longer term there will be a need to undertake repairs to the sea wall – it will be more comprehensive."

Physical work on the wall is due to begin next year.

"We're currently considering options as to what those repairs might look like and they will be considered over the next months with the likely tender to the market for repairs towards the end of this year," Walden said.

Repairs must align with and take into consideration any future redevelopment of Quay St, Walden said.

The downtown route has been earmarked for change under the City Centre Master Plan – a blueprint for the future use of the central city.

Nothing is set in stone, but the council said it would call for ideas on what to do with Quay St.

Ideas put forward so far include making the road a shared area for vehicles and pedestrians, much like the nearby Fort Lane and Darby St.

Quay St carries up to 30,000 cars a day. Opening up the red fence which lines Quay St to create more open space has also been mooted.

But any change is subject to feedback from Aucklanders.