Fantastic! That is the word the NZ Transport Agency says describes the community's response to its plans to replace the Old Māngere Bridge spanning Auckland's Manukau Harbour
“We have been committed from the start to consulting with communities on either side of the harbour and listening to their views, and we could not have wished for a better response than the one we’ve had – it is a fantastic outcome,” says the NZTA’s acting State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton.
The NZTA received nearly 1500 responses and suggestions, around 800 people visited open days at Mangere Bridge and Onehunga in August, and special workshops were held in local schools to hear the views of children.
“The result demonstrates just how important this link is to people on both sides of the harbour and the communities deserves a big ‘thank you’ for their interest and support - it will help shape our views about how the new bridge will look,” says Mr Mutton.
The feedback received during the consultation period (July – September 2012) has been brought together in a community engagement report that is now available online at www.nzta.govt.nz/oldmangerebridge(external link).
Key themes from the feedback included:
Mr Mutton says the project’s reference group – which includes community representatives and the Historic Places Trust – is now exploring how these themes will be incorporated into the design for the new bridge.
Mr Mutton says that with the completion of the first round of community consultation, a business case for the bridge replacement will be developed. A tender to design the replacement and an application for funding to construct it will be made in 2013.
People will be consulted again in mid-2013 about the new bridge’s design. The NZ Transport Agency hopes construction can start at the end of next year or early 2014, and that it will be completed in 2015 – the centenary of the opening of the Old Māngere Bridge.
The existing Old Māngere Bridge opened 97 years ago, in 1915. With the opening of a new motorway spanning the Manukau Harbour in 1983, the old bridge was closed to all traffic except walkers and cyclists. It is also one of Auckland’s most popular fishing locations. It is now nearing the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced with an alternative that is both a higher quality and safer connection for the many thousands of people who benefit from it.