By MIRIAM WEBBER
The NSW Government’s $38 million pedestrian bridge in Moore Park is under fire from transport advocacy group EcoTransit.
The Albert ‘Tibby’ Cotter Pedestrian bridge, currently in operation but not fully completed, is a six metre wide walkway over Anzac Parade.
It was designed to accommodate heavy pedestrian traffic during events at Moore Park’s SCG and Allianz Stadium.
But EcoTransit have said the government should have to answer for excessive costs, under utilisation, and a lack of planning.
One of EcoTransit’s main concerns was the price, as a funding blowout caused a $13 million increase from the original $25 million expected price tag.
The bridge is currently being investigated by the NSW Auditor-General.
EcoTransit maintains that the project is an unwarranted use of taxpayer funds.
The group have expressed their concerns through social media and a circulated YouTube video, released August 2.
In the clip, the group questioned the legitimacy of $38 million for what it calls, “the dinky little bridge”.
The group’s co-convenor Gavin Gatenby appeared in the video, in which he drew comparisons between the Tibby Cotter walkway and some of Australia’s most ‘sophisticated bridges’.
Mr Gatenby questioned how the simple pedestrian bridge could cost more than complex structures like the Hindmarsh Bridge at Goolwa in South Australia, which was engineered to bear road traffic.
“The Hindmarsh bridge cost just $20 million in today’s dollars. In other words, it was about half the price of the Tibby Cotter bridge,” Mr Gatenby said.
“I would say that about three-quarters of the price of it is a simple and very dodgy handover — illegitimate handover — of money to the people who have built it. Such a bridge should never cost remotely near $38 million,” he said.
“And there seems to be no reason to do with material, the length of the bridge or the difficulty of the engineering which would justify $38 million.”
However, Minister for Roads Duncan Gay said in a statement to City Hub the bridge was an “excellent investment”.
“The walkway caters for and encourages tourism and event patronage in our great state,” Mr Gay said.
“The bridge will also benefit local residents including students travelling to 200 local schools and more than 350,000 cycling trips made in the area annually.”
But Mr Gatenby said the bridge was unnecessary because pedestrians used other routes to get to Moore Park’s attractions.
“I’m told that people who are walking from Central, for example, are actually crossing further north up at Flinders [Street] and not a lot of them are using the bridge itself,” he said.
Mr Gatenby said construction and subsequent costs could have been avoided if plans to build a light rail tunnel just south of the bridge had incorporated a pedestrian walkway.
Construction of the walkway caused further problems, with the removal of a 1917 Anzac memorial at the northern end of Anzac Parade necessary for construction.
Randwick Council recently resolved to relocate the memorial and is currently investigating the construction of another memorial at the southern end of Anzac Parade.