Report says third bridge not needed - yet

​16 April 2018 

An independent study says Cambridge will not need another traffic bridge across the Waikato River for another 20 or so years.

The Beca study was commissioned by Waipa District Council to determine when a third bridge might be needed. 

A report to be discussed at tomorrow’s public Service Delivery Committee meeting notes traffic volumes crossing the river in Cambridge have grown 17% in the last 10 years. Most growth has occurred in the last three.  

Based on a regional traffic model and taking projected town growth into account, the Beca report found there was “no short or medium term need for an additional bridge in Cambridge”. A third bridge would not be needed until around 2048 or so and would likely come with a “rough order” price tag of $60-$65 million, the report said. 

Read the full report:

 Cambridge Road Bridges Traffic Capacity and Demand Study [PDF, 47 pages, 4MB]

Council’s Road Corridor Manager Bryan Hudson said around 27,000 vehicles a day use either the high level Victoria St bridge or the wider Shakespeare St structure to cross the river.  While Shakespeare St had more capacity than the Victoria St bridge, it was used by 26% fewer vehicles in 2016. The Beca report noted that at peak hours, Cambridge drivers might encounter an average 1-2 minute delay in crossing the river. 

“The spare capacity on the Shakespeare St bridge offers an opportunity to encourage drivers to use that route instead,” Hudson said. 

“Minor improvements to the road network and a change in driver behaviour could move that balance and see traffic spread more evenly. We’d also like to see a greater emphasis on walking, cycling and ride-sharing and that’s something we’ll be discussing with the community.”

Hudson acknowledged there was huge interest in a third bridge for Cambridge but given traffic volumes, growth projections and costs the “numbers just don’t stack up for now”. 

“For Council to get a substantial government subsidy to build the bridge, we’d need to provide a strong business case outlining how the project would support the government’s transport goals,” he said. 

“Right now given measured wait times, cost, projected growth and anticipated benefits, that business case simply wouldn’t stack up. Without a subsidy, the total cost of a new bridge would have to be wholly funded by Waipa ratepayers.  That would be a huge burden on the community.” 

As part of its report, Beca did a high-level assessment of four potential locations for a new bridge. They included extending Vogel Street south to the river; building a new bridge west of the town belt; extending Hanlin Road near the Avantidrome and constructing a bridge from the southern end of Hall Street.

A fifth option was building a new bridge beside the 110-year old Victoria Street bridge.  The existing bridge could then potentially be closed to traffic and used only by walkers and cyclists.

Beca has now been commissi​oned by the Council to investigate the resilience of the Victoria St bridge and estimate its long-term maintenance costs.

Projected impact on rates

It’s important to note that, if and when a bridge is built, the costs would be spread across the whole district. There would be an impact on rates for all of Waipā, not just Cambridge residents.

Without a government subsidy, the $65 million cost of constructing the bridge would see an estimated 11% increase in rates. For a Waipā ratepayer with a rates bill of $2,500 per year, that increase would mean an extra $275 charged to their annual rates, in place for the following 29 years (as the project would be loan-funded over 30 years).​

Page reviewed: 18 Apr 2018 3:31pm