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Brown positive after Wellington mission

Brown positive after Wellington mission
Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown talks to media on the Ashburton Bridge. 

He didn’t return from Wellington with bags of cash for Ashburton’s second bridge.
What Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown did get from his whistle-stop bridge promotion visit in Wellington was an optimistic response that the project has Government’s support – just not any guaranteed money – yet.
“There is a will there to build the second bridge, because of resilience,” Brown said.
“The only thing we are not clear on is how to fund it.
“We have agreed with Waka Kotahi, and whoever else needs to be involved, to work out a funding model.
“It’s down to, yes we need to build the bridge, it is necessary, and how are we going to fund it.
“It was a good discussion and we are all on the same page.”
The meeting with Transport Minister Michael Wood and Waka Kotahi representatives at the Beehive confirmed to Brown the Government is positively engaged in the conversation and thinking about how the proposed $113.6m second bridge can be funded.
The council has already budgeted $7.5m, based on a previous $40m cost estimate, but signalled it will consider a larger contribution if required.
The issue is the gap between what would be Waka Kotahi’s minimum 51 per cent contribution ($58m) and the council’s current contribution – an around $48.2m shortfall.
The minister made it clear to Brown that there is significant pressure on the national land transport programme (NLTP) following Cyclone Gabrielle, which caused significant damage to bridges and roads in the upper North Island.
“We will have to sit down with Waka Kotahi and whoever else and discuss where the best place is for this money to come from.”
There are options outside the NLTP, with one being the Government’s $3 billion infrastructure fund, launched in 2020.
“We’ll all be exploring options or innovative ways” to make it happen,’’ Brown said.

  • By Jonathan Leask