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Dunedin city councillors have pressed the "go button" on the $20million architecturally designed bridge they say will be a game-changer for the city.
The vote yesterday was unanimous, and so popular among councillors they clapped themselves when voting was done.
The news overjoyed Dunedin businessman Ian Taylor, who helped develop the wider vision for the city's Steamer Basin.
"You've made my day," he said when told late yesterday.
The bridge, the most expensive option to cross the railway lines by the Chinese Garden, is expected to be the spark that will light the Architecture Van Brandenburg proposal for development of the Steamer Basin area.
The vote means the money for the bridge will be included in the city's 10-year plan, then refined following community feedback and engineering feasibility work.
Mayor Dave Cull said he hoped the council could begin planning "as soon as possible".
Submissions on the bridge showed 489 supported a $20million structure, 476 a $10million bridge and 404 no bridge at all.
Of postcard-style submissions sent to the council, 504 wanted the $20million bridge, 179 the $10million option and 94 no bridge.
A report to yesterday's 10-year plan deliberations said it was anticipated the NZ Transport Agency would contribute $5.5million.
The council also has its eye on the Government's $3billion provincial growth fund.
Cr David Benson-Pope said during debate the waterfront was "fallow, and being demolished as we speak".
Access across the railway line had always been an issue that could not be surmounted when considering redeveloping the area.
"If we don't commit to the bridge, nothing is going to happen over there in the short term."
Cr Lee Vandervis said the one question for him was whether Dunedin wanted its wharf developed.
In most developed cities the most valuable property was by the waterfront, but in Dunedin that was not the case.
"Do we want to remain the only city with an undeveloped waterfront?"
Cr Damian Newell said once confusion over the council's input into the project was explained, almost all people he had spoken to supported the idea.
"This is our chance to hit the go button."
Cr Kate Wilson said $20million was "a small amount of money for something that will grow the value base of the city."
"As nervous as I am about it, I'm also very excited," Cr Wilson said.
"I'll be voting yes."
Deputy Mayor Chris Staynes said if the city failed to go ahead with the plan it would also be failing in its governance of the city.
Cr Rachel Elder said the bridge was "very exciting" and a catalyst for growth and development.
"We invest and build a bridge and the rest will come."
Mr Cull said there was a crystallised vision for the waterfront and partners were interested in investing.
"We need to back the vision, we need to back our community, and we need to back our community's future."
Mr Taylor described the decision as one of the most important the council had to make.
It gave backers a solid base to apply for government funding.
People across New Zealand were asking him how Dunedin had been able to come together on the project in such a short time.
"We did get a reputation for whingeing and moaning, now everybody's ... saying `these guys are serious'."