Second harbour link questioned

Plans for a second pedestrian link connecting Dunedin's harbourside and inner city will be presented for public consultation, despite doubts voiced yesterday.

Councillors at yesterday's Dunedin City Council infrastructure services committee voted to include the $96,000 footpath project - running up the Jetty St overbridge on-ramp from Cumberland St - in the 2011-12 draft annual plan for consultation.

That was despite opposition from some councillors at yesterday's meeting, who questioned the need for the new footpath, given plans unveiled last week for a larger pedestrian and cycle bridge to the harbourside.

The planned pedestrian and cycle bridge could cost up to $3.5 million if built, and be open by 2016.

Cr Richard Thomson said he would support including the project in 2011-12 draft annual plan consultation, but was "struggling" to understand why the footpath was also needed, given plans for the larger bridge.

A council staff report said the footpath would link to a footpath already on the overbridge, which crosses the railway line to the harbourside area.

The additional footpath was needed for safety reasons, as pedestrians were already walking up and down the on-ramp, staff said.

However, Cr Thomson said commuters had gone without the pedestrian link for 30 years, and wondered if it was "too much to ask" for them to wait for the larger bridge to be completed, rather than building both structures.

The new footpath would be just 50m to 60m from the larger bridge, if built, but the bigger bridge would be closer to the majority of people using either link.

"It [the Jetty St footpath] would be perfectly fine if it's done, but I just can't see the need for it, when you put it into a longer-term perspective," he said.

Other councillors also opposed the footpath, Cr Chris Staynes saying it was be a "nice option" that could not be justified, and Cr John Bezett worried it could be used as a reason not to build the larger bridge.

"Until that's done, I don't think we should be looking at any another access," he said.

Cr Jinty MacTavish took a different view, suggesting plans for the larger bridge should be scrapped in favour of an expanded Jetty St project that also catered for cyclists, saving money overall. 

Others supported the project. Cr Colin Weatherall said it would enhance road safety, while Cr Lee Vandervis - initially dubious about its merits - said he could "actually see some value" in another link.

"Whether or not we get a bridge ... this link will be used to go to other parts of the harbour now and in the future," he said.

• Plans to rejig council budgets to cover a $278,000 shortfall in funding from the New Zealand Transport Agency for the latest stage of the Otago Peninsula cycleway were officially abandoned yesterday. 

The move came after NZTA staff on Friday reversed an earlier decision not to pay its full subsidy towards the next $1 million stage of the cycleway, from Vauxhall to Doon St on Portobello Rd.

Council transportation operations programme engineer Michael Harrison told the meeting the NZTA decision meant the Vauxhall stage would proceed as planned, without the rejig.

However, the order of the remaining 11 stages of the project would still need to be reconsidered.

A report discussing future funding and timing issues would be presented to a subsequent committee meeting, he said.



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