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New vistas around town

New vistas around town

Work will be finished next month (April) on placing power lines underground and installing new streetlights along Birkenhead Ave between Onewa and Park Hill Rds in North Shore City.

The council's works and environment committee chairperson, Joel Cayford, says the city will look better and be a safer place because of the co-ordinated programme, scheduled to minimise costs and inconvenience to the community.

Councillor Cayford says residents along Birkenhead Ave, as well as pedestrians and motorists who use the busy thoroughfare, will enjoy the more open appearance created by the undergrounding of services, which provides for future road widening.

"The undergrounding programme is not just about improving the landscape," he says. "Getting rid of the power poles and placing the unsightly cables out of sight also remove a significant traffic safety threat."

Two other undergrounding projects are currently under way and should be completed by June. They are:

* Old State Highway 1 through Albany Village; and * * Hurstmere and Kitchener Rds (to complete undergrounding between Takapuna and Milford).

In addition, road widening and undergrounding at Rosedale Rd in Albany is expected to begin in April and be completed in June, says Joel Cayford.

"Traditionally, the undergrounding of services in North Shore City has been staged to complement roadworks, beautification and other upgrading work undertaken around the city," he says. The extensive undergrounding programme has historically been largely funded by dividends from UnitedNetworks Ltd. When the former Waitemata Electric Power Board was split up in 1994, North Shore City Council and neighbours Rodney District and Waitakere City were given a beneficial interest in shares in the new lines company, UnitedNetworks (now owned by Vector Ltd). Until the shares in the utility company were sold late last year for the premium price on offer, the councils' combined 10.7 per cent stake was held by the Waitemata Electricity Trust, which is administered by the UnitedNetworks Shareholders' Society as the trustee. Using the dividends, more than $36 million was reinvested in a total of 124 projects over the past eight years. From October 1994, exactly half (62) of those projects were undertaken in North Shore City. They were worth $17.87 million, an average of $2.2 million a year. Of the $160.4 million share sale proceeds received by the three councils, $8.9 million was retained by the Shareholders' Society to fund the cities' ongoing undergrounding programmes until July 2004. Over the next few months, North Shore City will consider its approach to funding its undergrounding programme from the 2004-05 financial year.

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