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Clock ticking on 1000yr bridge

The proposed 1000-year pedestrian bridge linking the Cook Landing Site to Titirangi/Kaiti Hill continues to be at risk because of uncertaintly over its cost and the short time frame to have it completed by the Te Ha commemorations in 2019, the District Council’s Future Tairawhiti committee was told.

Chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said a decision on the purchase of steel, before prices were expected to rise, would not now have to be made at the finance and audit committee meeting on November 29, as stated in a noting report on the project before the committee of all councillors.

The committee was also told that tender documents for the building of the bridge had been released on Monday. These had been called with the design for the project only 50 percent completed.

Ms Thatcher Swann said it was not her intention to bring a report to the finance committee because even if the steel was purchased later at 20 percent more, that was still working within the current budget. It would, however, increase the risk of a cost variation to the total project. But it was not a decision required of the finance committee at that point.

“The major significant risk we have is that when the detailed design costings come through, that will be completely out of the ballpark in terms of the cost estimates and funding that we have available.”

At that point there would have to be a decision of “go or not go” and the council would have to look at options around the steel cost and seek an extension of the time frame from the funders.

The $3.06 million project to build the bridge and Te Maro commemorative site sits alongside a $1.63m upgrade of the Cook Landing Site. This work is all being externally funded by the Department of Conservation, the Lottery Significant Projects Fund and the Provincial Growth Fund.

Graeme Thomson said the council had a number of other projects for which there was a risk, including the Waipaoa River stopbanks upgrade, the wastewater scheme and the the DrainWise project. The council was looking at basically increasing rates by 50 percent in the next 10 years. It could not look at each project with regard to risk in isolation.

Andy Cranston said it was getting problematic to meet the time frames. All the parties involved would have to work together to avoid the handbrake going on.

Pat Seymour said although there was external funding, this was the councl’s project and if the cost came in over-budget it would be the council that would have to look for extra funding.

Project manager Greg Judd said the perception was that the steel was available but the council was floating until it was able to lock someone down on the design, and say how they wanted the job done.

The project had been peer-reviewed and they did not see any major alterations being needed for the superstructure. There was always the potential to sell the steel if the project did not go ahead.

A BRIDGE TOO FAR?: A concept drawing of the 1000-year Puhi Kai Iti walk bridge. Councillors have budget concerns over the bridge. Picture supplied