Waipā District Council wants the government to pick up 51 per cent of the bill for a third bridge for Cambridge – but is working on the basis that it will not be needed for another 20 years.
A group charged with looking at the future of Cambridge’s transport network meets this month to begin defining the shape of Cambridge’s transport infrastructure for the next 30 years.
Council allocated $300,000 for the Cambridge Connections project a year ago and work moved up a gear after the adoption of the Waipā Transport Strategy in May. That strategy confirmed the need for a third bridge in Cambridge once the high-level Victoria Bridge can no longer carry vehicles.
First things first: traffic congestion in Cambridge will ease when additional off and on ramps are added to the town’s southern interchange. We hope Cambridge Connections has that at the top of the list.
Group manager service delivery Dawn Inglis said the Cambridge Connections project, expected to take a year to compete, would culminate in a business case to seek government funding for a bridge, but the work involved “much more” than that.
“Cambridge Connections will consider how to reduce traffic demand, provide transport alternatives and make best use of existing infrastructure. We also need to consider national climate change targets and ways to encourage and enable more walking, cycling and public transport.”
Inglis said a location for the bridge had not been decided and land had not been purchased.
“A third bridge location would require Council to designate land, meaning the land would be zoned for future road use. A lot of land would be needed and once designated, council would likely be required to borrow money to buy that land, even though the bridge will be some years away. A designation may also require existing road corridors to be widened, forcing council to buy further land from residents or businesses, some of whom may not wish to sell. There’s a lot at stake.”
By next June Cambridge Connections would have a business case “as defined by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency”. The case was essential to the securing a 51 per cent government subsidy.
Without that, Inglis said Waipā ratepayers will foot the bill for the bridge… “we need the government on board”.
The Cambridge Connections Stakeholder Group includes councillors and Cambridge Community Board members, iwi representatives and representation from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, the heavy freight industry and regional transport planning experts.