To Fund and Build a Sky Path – Or Not
That is the (Multi) Million Dollar Question
As I made mention in my “I LOVE COMMITTEES” I am off to the Auckland Council Transport Committee today (2pm) to observe proceedings on a matter of important subjects (listed in that particular post). One thing I overlooked in the Transport Committee Agenda that is garnering a lot of attention is for the Transport Committee to “back” the Auckland Harbour Bridge Sky Path (Cycle and Walk way) project – in regards to the merits of the project, not asking for money (that is for the Strategy and Finance Committee to deal with.
The AHB – Sky Path Proposal and Recommendations start on page nine of the February 2013 Transport Committee Agenda. For quicker reference I’ll paste the recommendations for what the Transport Committee has to consider below:
The Recommendations for the AHB-Sky Path for the Transport Committee to consider:
Auckland Harbour Bridge Pathway Project Update
13 February 2013
That the Transport Committee:
a) Receives this report on the Auckland Harbour Bridge Pathway Project Update.
b) Supports in principle the provision of a shared walk and cycle way across the Harbour Bridge rather than wait for provision once an Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing is in place subject to financial feasibility analysis.
c) Acknowledges the significant transport benefits (as well as recreational and tourism benefits) the SkyPath would bring to the Auckland region in terms of completing a missing link in the Auckland Cycle Network and walking network, which would be further enhanced by the completion of the Northern Linkage/Shoal Bay.
d) Acknowledges the timing of the SkyPath, in the short term, would take advantage of Waterfront Auckland’s planned waterfront cycleway and walkway from Westhaven Marina to Daldy Street, and planned improvements by Auckland Transport to the local streets in Northcote as part of its Safe Schools Programme.
e) Requests the New Zealand Transport Agency and Auckland Transport to consider the Shoal Bay proposal as part of the investigation of the Northern Link between Northcote and Akoranga to provide improved walking and cycling connections to the northern end of the proposed SkyPath.
f) Recommends that a report should be prepared with further information for the Strategy and Finance Committee to consider funding sources and the Council’s contributions (in the form of part underwrite and assumption of obligations at the end of the public private partnership period) to the SkyPath. This further information would include:
- Procurement arrangements: fully contested or the proposed negotiated public private partnership;
- Detailed risk assessment;
- Comparison of a public private partnership arrangement with traditional procurement process to determine best value for money; and
- Assessment of the project against the Council’s Significance and Public Private Partnership Policies.
g) Recognises that while the benefits of the SkyPath are significant, any Council contribution to the project should come from the Council’s transport funding allocation to Auckland Transport, rather than disrupt Auckland Transport’s ability to deliver the walking and cycling programme which obtains New Zealand Transport Agency subsidies.
So today I will watch the proceedings, people making passionate pleas and committee members gnashing the teeth and asking questions on this Sky Path project.
My personal recommendation to the Transport Committee:
Pass all recommendations made above and send the matter to the Council Strategy and Finance Committee .
My personal recommendation to the Strategy and Finance Committee:
REJECT the motion in supporting the Auckland Harbour Bridge Sky Path – on the provision then the matter gets deferred to as a FUNDED project in the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan (when it is written up and becomes operational) rather than UNFUNDED project in the current and operational 2012-2022 LTP.
My reason is simple, Auckland has no money for it in the current LTP and we can not reallocate money from else where as well – it would be financially irresponsible. By moving the AHB Sky Path to the 2015-2025 LTP; the project sponsors have time to fund raise more money for the project, and have a better chance in securing new money in that particular LTP than the current one.
Yes I know that delays the project which I believe is a winner by three years. However budgetary restraints and responsibility also takes precedence over all matters as well. There is simply no new money available for the Sky Path and I am not willing to have existing budgets rearranged to fit this project in. These budgetary restraints the Sky Path faces are also the same in my thinking for deferring the $108m Pukekohe Electrification extension to the 2015-2025 LTP. What does that mean? We are in the same boat Sky Path Fans – we actually are when it comes to money. Both of “our” projects are winners for Auckland but there is just no new money available and we can simply not ask for a large-scale reallocation of existing money for our projects. It is just not prudent and the ratepayers would have our guts for garters (especially with rate rises happening) if we tried!
So YES for the Sky Path – but deferred two more years please.
6 thoughts on “Auckland Harbour Bridge – Sky Path”
I have waited 53 years for this walking bridge. lLl the Finance committee has to commit to is $200,000 per year at a low risk. They only have to pay this if the patronage is 30% below the low prediction. Be brave Auckland we have had too many schemes delayed by more reports and politicians that do not have the fore sight. Please don’t become one Ben.
The catch is where does that $200,000 come from if something bad does happen.
Look I am supporting the project through and through unless something goes badly wrong at Strategy and Finance Committee but as I said it is on an Unbudgeted Line in the current LTP which means there is no money for underwriting without some other project getting shafted back down the queue.
It is like an insurance company underwriting with no money and something happens
Same thing applies to Sky Path
I am taking Sky Path on the word of PIP crossing their T’s and dotting their I’s in going through a full process (as has to happen) and the project being a winner for Auckland.
But if three projects down in South Auckland (public transport projects at that) are going through the same thing with LTPs and budgets despite also being winners then Sky Path is in the same boat.
Pukekohe Electrification, the Manukau South Link, Glenora Road Station, Spartan Road Station, The City Rail Link and SkyPath; all winners for Auckland, all can withstand a robust process, all subject to the same pitfall – the budget.
I am not asking for no more reports and shooting something down due lack of foresight. I am asking for due process which PIP are doing and the budget line be set properly. This was made clear in the Transport Committee yesterday
Defer it to the 2015 LTP then go for it – I won’t certainly stop to the fact I will happily be part of the first group (with my AT-HOP card) to go and walk over it.
SkyPath WILL BE BUILT (just three years later)
You would stop this over a $3m Council underwriting? C’mon Ben. Please don’t try and stop this now Ben. If it gets cast aside today, it may take many years to happen. Tolls can always be removed later if NZTA and AT decide to buy out the Skypath.
I’ll be specifically clear Bryce and put it into plain English:
Transport Committee: Pass all resolutions as is and send it to the Strategy and Finance Committee
Strategy and Finance Committee (which would be either the March or April meeting dates): Defer it to the 2015-2015 LTP (which means it still falls within the current Auckland Transport 10 year Plan) whether be under writing or physical spending as both requires new money.
Chris Fletcher seems to have hit the nail on the head:
I will vote for the Auckland Harbour Bridge Skypath project to go to Strategy and Finance today. It is a really interesting proposal but should only proceed if it stacks up financially. The Transport Committee is not the place to evaluate the financials. Send it S & F.”
“Send it to S&F” is what was requested in the proposal.
It got sent to Strat and Finance alright, two and a half hours plus of debate and one numb arse later…
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