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Save Kopu Bridge 

Transport New Zealand are bending over backwards to sooth the ruffled  feathers of the Save Kopu Bridge (SKP) campaign, but questions remain.

They hosted a meeting last evening at the Civic Centre attended by about 25 people to explain their position, and set out the terms of just what SKB will need to come up with if they are to get to first base.

The 'rough order' (30% either way) figures provided were as follows:

- upgrade of existing structure - $2.3m

- annualised costs of maintaining structure - $250,000

- demolition - $3.9m

There was general scepticism at the figures provided by Harry Wilson and Kay Clarke from the Hamilton office. Harry did not seem too well acquainted with the costs, but provided valuable information in other regards including their intention to place the $3.9m in escrow should the SKB proposal get off the ground, as insurance against the subsequent collapse of the proposed SKB Trust. They will not contribute to the upgrade or continuing maintenance.

The Trust will have until March to come up with a business case, and the TNZ will announce whether it is a goer in June.

I don't like their chances of raising this magnitude of funding - they made it clear that they understand that there will be nothing coming from either Council (HDC and TCDC), or rate-payers. And I was left puzzled about painting - Kay claimed that it was due, and that it would cost $4-5m. It is all very well to talk about annualised costs (over 20 years), but how does SKB think they will come up with $4m lump at the outset to accomplish this task?

They have to be given every opportunity, and the business case will have to be based on them being able to secure accurate cost information - TNZ may have to undertake a bit more archival research regarding accurate historical costs before such a business case can be prepared that will enable them to go out to the various funding agencies.

You have to hand it to Gary Blake and his team. They bring enthusiasm and intent to the process and good luck to them. Note also the Harry was sanguine about the HTP 'A' Classification when it comes to demolition - does not see it as a problem.

I was prepared to maintain my earlier opposition, but in the light of Harry's assurance that the demolition equivalent will be placed in escrow, I am now neutral until we can see the business case,  just how successful SKB are in getting support. They have much to accomplish between now and April, though they may get an extension if they need it.

Go for it Gary!




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