Editorial: People path on bridge a top idea, if user pays

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Studies suggest it'd be wise to let private firm take risk. Photo / APN
Studies suggest it'd be wise to let private firm take risk. Photo / APN

Over the past few years, there have been several proposals for a pedestrian and cycle path on the Auckland Harbour Bridge. All have foundered.

The city's boisterous climate and the bridge's steep gradient represent strong disincentives to potential users, so much so that none of the plans has appealed as a cost-effective use of tax and ratepayer money.

Many of the obstacles and objections have, however, been rendered mute by a new $23 million proposal. This involves a 4m-wide pathway below the deck of the eastern bridge clip-on. It would be enclosed, thus easing concerns over Auckland's weather.

Most importantly, it is the work of a private company, Hopper Developments, which, apparently, envisages a $2 toll on the path.

The initiative has garnered the support of the mayor, Len Brown. "This project could become one of Auckland's iconic attractions and be of huge benefit to people on both sides of the bridge," he enthuses.

Caution needs to be exercised, however. Mr Brown would do well to recall a study three years ago, which, after analysing San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and Sydney's Harbour Bridge, played down the numbers likely to use a path here.

Clearly, Hopper Developments has reached a different conclusion, one in which a user-toll equation allows it to reap a profit. The Auckland Council is right to lend its encouragement.

That must be the extent of its involvement, however. Underwriting the venture should be out of the question given the doubts about the path's financial viability.

- NZ Herald

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