Release of costs shows overwhelming benefits for Inner West projects; Auckland Transport urged to move forward

Dec 09, 2022
<strong>Release of costs shows overwhelming benefits for Inner West projects; Auckland Transport urged to move forward</strong>

Bike Auckland

A recently released breakdown of project costs for one of the strongly supported Inner West Improvement projects highlights that cycling funding is being leveraged to deliver a balanced programme of benefits for the whole community and all Aucklanders.

“Thanks to an information request (LGOIMA) from a member of the public, it is now clear that opposition to these three projects is based on misinformation regarding the multiple benefits,” says Tony Mitchell, Chair of Bike Auckland. “Auckland Transport and Council can proceed with confidence, knowing these projects are smart, sensible investments that will pay for themselves many times over.”

“As we can see in the breakdown of project costs, for the Pt Chevalier to Westmere route the bulk of the funding ($20.6m or 43%) is for roading costs including the rebuild of sinking Meola Road for full resilience, and to achieve across the board benefits for everyone –  including the thousands of students of Western Springs College, and other schools in the area, who want to be able to get to school safely,” Mr Mitchell says.

Bike Auckland is one of a number of community organisations, schools and residents calling on Auckland Transport, the Mayor and Auckland Council to start construction on the shovel-ready, Inner West street improvement projects as scheduled.

Any further delay would be unconscionable, says Mr Mitchell, given the growing calls from local rangatahi and the wider public, for safer, more accessible and more versatile streets.

“It’s time for Auckland Transport’s acting CEO Mark Lambert and acting Chair, Wayne Donnelly to show leadership in standing behind their own projects, which set a positive example for ‘dig once’ street improvements for everyone walking, scooting, riding a bike, catching the bus, and driving. We call on Auckland Transport to deliver on the promise of these three projects and progress the street improvements immediately.” 

The true cost of the Meola Rd cycleway revealed

There has been lots of talk recently about the long planned, fully consulted, government co-funded, shovel-ready Inner West projects. And while it should have been talk of the projects finally getting underway, it’s been misinformation and inflammatory statements by recently elected councillors, in particular Cr Mike Lee, calling into question the cost of the projects for “cycling infrastructure.”

Thanks to a member of the public the cost breakdown of the Point Chevalier to Westmere street improvements project has seen the light of day as a result of a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act request:

As seen in the above image, $20.6 million (43%) of this project is towards roading costs; including road rehabilitation of Meola Road, resurfacing, road markings, and much needed safety improvements. Compare this to the $6.2 million towards the cycleway, and it’s very clear that this is much more than a cycling project; it’s a comprehensive street improvement project which will result in a safer, more pleasant street featuring rain gardens and native plants.  

Now that the budget breakdown for this project is in clear view, Tony Mitchell, Chair of Bike Auckland, says “It’s obvious that this work will deliver bountiful benefits to the whole community. It’s also clear that it leverages cycling funding to rebuild a sinking road for full resilience, and to achieve a whole range of benefits across the board for everyone using these streets.” He goes on to say that “The related shovel-ready Inner West street improvement projects are just as productive, and thus good to go.”

This information also clarifies that any continued opposition, calls for a slowdown, or continued misinformation about cycleway costs is at best misguided and at worst a disingenuous point of view. Further delays run the risk of increasing the cost of these much needed street improvements by missing the opportunity to use the ‘dig once’ approach and adding costs of further consultation when these projects have already had years of consultation. In fact, bundling the costs across all aspects of the street improvements, actually saves money by doing the projects at the same time, as well as being less disruptive to the community.

As highlighted by public input, including Suzanne Kendrick from Bike Grey Lynn and a rangatahi from Western Springs College, to Council’s transport and infrastructure committee last Thursday, the planned work will deliver vital safety improvements for our tamariki. In the words of Auckland Transport’s Interim CEO Mark Lambert at that meeting, “let’s not call them cycling projects, they’re not just cycling.”

Anyone who has the best interests of the community at heart can see there’s no call for any more delay, denial, or bickering about design. This work is co-funded by government, understood and supported by the community at large, and years overdue. 

Tony Mitchell says Bike Auckland “calls on Auckland Transport and Council to deliver on the promise of these projects and progress these street improvements immediately.”

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