Business leaders are joining the call for action on a third bridge for Cambridge.
Business owners were among a group which met at C & R Developments in Hautapu last week.
Managing director Mike Ross said businesses like his wanted a site for a third bridge to be identified soon so that the appropriate planning could take place.
“We just want to get on with the third bridge now, to keep the momentum going. We want it built so we can all get over it, in more ways than one,” he said. “We just need to look to the future, stop messing around and get on with it.”
A meeting hosted last December by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce heard that almost 50 of its members polled had signalled the need for movement on progressing a third bridge.
Waipā District Councillor Philip Coles says there is a need to keep the topic of a third bridge at the forefront of people’s minds, and to pinpoint a potential site for its development urgently.
He said the issue of a third bridge had the capacity to define Cambridge’s future, its quality of life, its layout, and the way people move around the town in years to come.
When the Cambridge section of the Waikato Expressway was opened in late 2015, around 20,000 vehicles passed between the St Andrew’s Church and the Queen St roundabout each day, he said. The count today is over 23,600 vehicles daily, and vehicle numbers around both bridges are also increasing.
“It is my view, and that of many other individuals, businesses and organisations, that a site for a potential third bridge is identified and secured soon before this town grows any bigger,” he said.
“Council is currently completing Transport Strategy Review, so while we are making inroads, the push to move forwards, particularly within the business sector, is gaining momentum. We need to keep our focus on it.”
He and fellow Waipā District Councillor Roger Gordon say it is imperative to identify a potential corridor for a third bridge site before areas are built up. They said plans to add about 5000 new homes to Cambridge over the next 15 years would further impact traffic flows that are already challenging residents.
“Look at the congestion now around Victoria St leading to the high-level bridge [Victoria Bridge], between 3.30m to 5pm on weekdays,” said Roger Gordon. “What will that be like when the new developments come on stream, when up to 10,000 more people are added to the population?”
He said business are being negatively affected by long lines of traffic that impact customer access for a couple of hours each day.
Both councillors said the outcomes of the Transport Strategy should be known soon.
The Waipā District Council website says: “If the Transportation Strategy indicates the need to move at pace to identify a third river crossing, Council will pull together funding from operating reserves to designate and acquire land for a third bridge”.