It's confirmed: Te Wero bridge, linking the Viaduct with the Wynyard Quarter and the America's Cup Village, will not be replaced before the America's Cup in 2021.
The Herald revealed this delay was likely in a story last week. We said then it was one of three council projects intended to improve downtown city life that were not expected to be completed before the Cup competition started.
Panuku Auckland, the council agency in charge of the bridge, has announced that it will not proceed with construction of a new bridge at this time. Instead, it will continue to maintain the existing bridge and expects to begin work on a new one in 2022.
A Panuku spokesperson said today the issue had been presented to the board this week, and the board had decided on the delay.
Roger McDonald, Panuku chief executive, says, "The decision to push pause on the construction of the bridge is a result of higher than anticipated costs to deliver a bridge of the form and function proposed."
A Panuku spokesperson confirmed that advice from "several professional consultants" had made it clear a bridge to the design standard envisaged was not possible for the price.
Council budgeted $27.5 million for the replacement bridge, which was to have a "bascule" design, able to be raised for boats to pass through. In appearance, the "wings" of the bridge conjured the idea of a pair of seabirds, one on each side.
The Herald understands Panuku may ask council for up to $10m more.
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McDonald has told councillors that "Panuku remains committed to delivering a new pedestrian bridge for Auckland that is fit for purpose and of the highest quality and design".
He says, "Panuku is working with mana whenua to ensure that the bridge reflects Te Ao Māori - a Māori world view - both in the way it is designed, and the way it is constructed."
The bridge is the key pedestrian link between the America's Cup Village and downtown Auckland and the public transport hub around Britomart. Panuku had earlier said the existing bridge would be too small for Cup crowds and was in any case always intended to be temporary. Its consent will expire before the Cup and now needs to be renewed.
The delay means Panuku will keep maintaining the existing bridge, but will not add any temporary extra capacity.
The other downtown projects at risk of delay are the pedestrianisation of Quay St West and the completion of the plaza on the bottom block of Queen St, in front of Britomart station.
Quay St is an Auckland Transport project the Herald understands has run into consenting delays. The Queen St plaza is the responsibility of Precinct Holdings, which owns the big new Commercial Bay project on that block. Construction delays at Commercial Bay have caused the delay to finishing the plaza.