Debate is continuing over the case for a third bridge over the Waikato River, or a clip-on for the Ferguson (Low Level) Bridge with the addition of an on-off ramp for Waikato Expressway near Cambridge Golf Club.
We asked Waipā candidates whether planning for a third bridge in Cambridge is at the right pace.
Here’s what they had to say – in alphabetical order. Answers have been edited to a maximum of 110 words.
Elise Badger (Cambridge Community Board)
An additional river crossing is a complex issue and that has implications greater than just for Cambridge town.
The Waikato River has relatively few places to cross it, so a third crossing is about connecting communities across both sides of the river and this must be taken into consideration. The placement of an additional river crossing will also significantly impact the landowners around it, and so must be thoughtfully considered.
Krystie Brickland (Cambridge Community Board)
Andrew Brown (Te Awamutu-Kihikihi)
For financial reasons it’s critical Waka Kotahi is on board and that cannot be rushed
Lou Brown (Te Awamutu-Kihikihi)
Essential that the Cambridge third bridge is carefully planned and receives Waka Kotahi funding for all Waipā ratepayers.
Philip Coles (Cambridge)
It is very frustrating that it is taking a lot of effort to convince the majority of elected members council staff that a study of such importance is taking, the positioning of a new bridge will define the future of our town and the corridor needs to be identified so that the future growth of our town is designed to fit around.
Jo Davies-Colley (Cambridge Community Board)
I believe that Cambridge needs to build a third bridge as soon as it is feasible to do so. Infrastructure and connectivity are integral to productivity, access and freedom of movement.
None of us want to spend any more time in our cars than we need to, and as Cambridge grows, the need for a way to divert excess traffic from the town centre will be crucial. This goes hand in hand with the planning and development of safe and effective cycleways and walkways to further encourage people to leave their cars at home where possible.
Bernie Fynn (Te Awamutu-Kihikihi)
Council and inward migrators created this need, so no bridge. Ratepayers should not have to pay for council’s poor decisions.
Roger Gordon (Cambridge) No.
I think the current project Connecting Cambridge is the appropriate path for the council to take. I believe that this work should have been incorporated in the Waipā District Transportation Strategy which was finalised earlier this year. I have a concern that with the current pace of growth in Cambridge it is possible that some of the options for the site of a third river crossing will be overtaken by residential development. I am pleased, despite the attempts by several Te Awamutu councillors, to be one of three councillors on Connecting Cambridge. It is important that we use current data as a base and constrictions of the network.
Marcus Gower (Te Awamutu-Kihikihi)
We are doing the transport study, we are still to secure funding from Waka Kotahi.
Norris Hall (Te Awamutu-Kihikihi Community Board)
Cambridge-Leamington is a growing town and an extra bridge would come in handy.
Alana Mackay (Cambridge Community Board)
There are many things to consider before committing rate payers to the huge expense of a new bridge, including growth areas, changes to people’s habits and modes of transport, other roading projects in the region and how these will influence traffic movements in and around Cambridge, and more.
I support council’s direction to thoroughly research the best option and plan a solid case for Waka Kotahi to assist with funding.
Sue Milner (Cambridge Community Board)
Currently we have only one bridge that can be used by emergency services. In Cambridge the bridges are ‘lifelines’ and having only one that can be used as such is not good enough.
Mike Montgomerie (Maungatautari)
A third bridge will be a massive investment which we need to get right. It will have to make sense within a comprehensive medium to long term integrated transport strategy for Cambridge.
I don’t yet have the information or clarity required to form a view on whether planning specifically for a third bridge is proceeding at the right pace.
Andrew Myles (Maungatautari – Community Board)
I believe not enough strategic planning is presented about the whole district’s traffic and future growth. With this information then a commitment plan should be made regarding a third bridge.
James Mylchreest (Mayor)
The third bridge for Cambridge is one part of the overall transportation strategy and must be developed in a coordinated way and supported by factual data. This is necessary not only to secure external funding from Waka Kotahi but also to ensure that the location is in the right place as once identified it is likely to have some adverse impacts on some private property rights and these need to be equitably managed. It must be recognised that funding for a third bridge will have an impact on every ratepayer in the district and will be in competition for funding against all other nationally significant roading projects.
Ruth Nicholls (Maungatautari – Community Board)
The lower bridge is underutilised.
Selina Oliver (Cambridge Community Board)
I need more information, it is not quite as easy as just building a new bridge, there are so many different parts to the puzzle.
Susan O’Regan (Mayor)
All of our decisions no matter how large or small must be evidenced-based. Our 2022 Transport Strategy identified a need for this work to commence and work on a business case has begun. I accept here is a perception council has been slow to progress this matter however the way in which large infrastructure projects are co-funded, detailed planning and proven need based on data is a necessity. It is imperative we pull together a comprehensive and compelling business case with agreed data so as to be successful at securing funding from Waka Kotahi. Without this co-funding it would simply not be an affordable option for all of Waipā ratepayers.
James Parlane (Te Awamutu-Kihikihi and Community Board)
The bridges were built when Cambridge was a significantly smaller town. Money should have been set aside over the years by way of a sinking fund or depreciation account to provide for proper access to Cambridge town centre. This council has planners but they do not know how to plan for the future. They are hopeless at forecasting and they should have been well on the way with another bridge and widening of the High Level Bridge.
David Slone (Cambridge Community Board)
We will clearly need a new bridge. The timing can be debated (though I favour sooner the better) however we need to make provision for it while we can. For example, if it is deemed best to go in north of the town, if we sit back and do nothing, we won’t be able to get the land to do the necessary work, or else it will be extremely expensive as the subdivisions are going in now. It means spending money now, but nationwide we are seeing the impact of short term thinking on our infrastructure. If we plan early, we have more chance of making sound, long term investments.
Delwyn Smith (Cambridge and Community Board)
Because the High Bridge is so old, it is reasonable to assume it will have an end date. Even walking across the bridge is scary. Is the Low Bridge suitable for pedestrians? The Low Bridge and feeder roads on the Cambridge side will not cope with the increased flow, should the High Bridge be out of action. I feel sooner rather than later.
Clare St Pierre (Pirongia-Kakepuku)
I want to put the brakes on the rush to choose a third bridge in Cambridge. The Victoria St bridge has a life well beyond 2041 and expert opinion is that the existing bridges can cope with forecast traffic volumes. The target to reduce private vehicle emissions by 41% from 2019 levels by 2035 is likely to significantly turn back the dial on congestion. There is an opportunity to be grasped by Cambridge to use the review of traffic issues to revamp the CBD to make public transport, walking and cycling so easy you wouldn’t think of using a car. Don’t let third bridge devotees rob you of that chance.
Corilin Steel (Pirongia-Kakepuku)
Cambridge needs a new bridge soon to alleviate traffic congestion. It is a expensive undertaking, but delaying it just means the costs will continue to escalate.
Takena Stirling (Māori)
I believe this is a question for the Cambridge locals. I do not reside there, so it won’t affect me daily, but for those who it might, they should answer.
Liz Stolwyk (Cambridge)
I believe planning for another river crossing is proceeding at a pace that is affordable for Waipā residents. With planning there is a lot of cost and a great deal of work required with external organisations, such as Waka Kotahi so it is important that the process is robust, sensible and proceeds at a rate where all necessary parties buy into the project and the project is co-funded. What is key now is the designation of the land for the route and planning is well underway. This will be the biggest single cost of a project for Waipā and we must ensure it is affordable for all ratepayers.
Jill Taylor (Te Awamutu-Kihikihi Community Board)
Projects of this type involve the council working with other organisations to complete full planning – and this takes time.
Bruce Thomas (Pirongia-Kakepuku)
There is a process to follow and at the moment there is no need for a third bridge. In the future there may well be the need.
That is why council is doing a Transportation Study to determine when another bridge may be required, its location and how it could be funded.
Bernard Westerbaan (Mayor, Te Awamutu-Kihikihi and Community Board)
A third bridge is needed. Costing today is $70 million, in 3-5 years time this will be $100 million. Suggestion is to have all ratepayers pay for it. Rates for the new bridge needs to be on a band system where people who live close by need to pay more compared to say people in Pirongia.
NZTA or/and central government need to contribute. The high-level bridge will be out of action due to maintenance as well so will cause more stress on the low level bridge. I believe we should be looking at making the new bridge a toll bridge.
Chris Woodhams (Mayor)
I, 100 per cent believe Cambridge should not only have another bridge, but that Cambridge should have one already. My deepest concern is that council should be further along their planning processes. There is an opportunity to purchase land where a third bridge is most likely best placed and hold that land as council decides the next steps to take. Council have not initiated even that small step. Commuters must already wait in traffic congestion emitting noise and carbon. Further, the east-to-west corridor is cumbersome, while also sending large vehicles through urban areas. We must have a third bridge to ensure the whole of Waipā sees ongoing benefits.