Cyclists sceptical about $26m boost to cycleway budget

By Mathew Dearnaley

Cyclists may be among the few winners. Photo / APN.
Cyclists may be among the few winners. Photo / APN.

Cyclists may be among the few winners from a revised Auckland Transport budget in which a contentious parking building will be axed and spending on some roading projects deferred.

But although an Auckland Council staff report tells of a $26 million boost to the transport organisation's 10-year cycleways budget - to $115 million - even the cyclists do not know if that is new money.

An Auckland Transport official last night said he believed it was a real gain, and not just a reallocation of money from elsewhere, but could not confirm that.

Cycle Action Auckland chairwoman Barbara Cuthbert said she would not pop champagne corks until ruling out a suspicion the money was coming from the $1.5 billion Ameti package of roading and other transport projects in southeast suburbs.

Auckland Transport's board is due to decide today whether to approve a long-term funding programme likely to cost taxpayers more than $4.8 billion.

That is in "uninflated" dollars and does not count almost $500 million for electric trains and $2.4 billion for a central city rail tunnel, for which Auckland Mayor Len Brown says any local share will be covered over the next 10 years from loans rather than rates.

Auckland Transport has ditched plans for a $20 million parking building from near Manukau's new railway station, a project understood to have caused some concern to senior council officials.

Funding is also being deferred on several roading projects, although brought forward on others, to meet a requirement for all council-controlled organisations to prune 3 per cent from their 10-year capital budgets.

Although the council staff reports point to a 10-year allocation of $96 million to local boards for discretionary transport initiatives - at Mr Brown's request - Auckland Transport has had to reduce its roading renewals programme by $159 million.

One local board, Kaipatiki on the North Shore, is upset that not only are roading projects aligned to plans to upgrade the Highbury and Glenfield town centres being deferred, but also that a Beach Haven ferry service is now unlikely to start before 2017.

Chairwoman Lindsay Waugh said the board had been "totally undermined" over the town centre plans and deferral of the ferry, which was to have been introduced in conjunction with a new service due to start this year from Hobsonville.

"With all the emphasis on public transport to make Auckland a liveable city, this is one piece of infrastructure that is affordable, whereas you're going to have to keep resurfacing the roads."

Auckland transport projects

WINNERS

* Albany Highway (Sunset Rd to State Highway 17, Albany) - $34m increase to $100m.

* Dominion Rd - $28m increase to $90m.

* Lake Rd in Takapuna - $19m increase to $54m.

* $26m on extra on cycleway projects.

CUTS

* $26m in upgrades to the Hibiscus Coast Highway near Orewa.

* $22m from $715m of Ameti project spending.

* $8m from $58m for Penlink toll road to Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

* $14m of $42m deferred for bus lanes along Pakuranga Highway.

* $8m from a $16m upgrade of Sunnybrae Rd through Glenfield.

* $8m from a $33m upgrade of Tamaki Drive.

* $20m parking building from near Manukau's new railway station.

* Beach Haven ferry service.

- NZ Herald

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