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University forges ahead with Unnecessary Bridge


University forges ahead with Unnecessary Bridge

A compromise was announced today between the Historic Places Trust and Otago University over the controversial replacement and relocation of the St David St historic bridge:

Mark Baxter said: "It is a shame the University have bullied the HPT into a compromise over the historic foot-bridge, especially as this existing bridge fulfills the University's needs without being shunted aside for a new bridge. It is a sad 100th birthday present for the historic bridge.

"However the prime problem with this project remains that the University will be spending student money on an unnecessary project. This money is money students are forced to borrow, and money that could be better used within the University,” Mark Baxter said.

"The University, which operates at a surplus and is planning to increase student fees, expects students to go into further debt to pay for this unnecessary bridge.

"In total the entranceway project will cost around $2 million, a large part of this will be for the construction of the proposed bridge. Only $750,000 will come from donations for a 'new entranceway project' - not necessarily for a bridge (as is often claimed by the University).

"The relocation of the existing bridge will add $170,000 to this cost, taking away further from resources that could be used elsewhere in the University. Many areas of the University are under-funded while the Council pushes on with an unnecessary bridge.

"The monetary cost to individual students will increase greatly as student loan interest is added over the years. While the academic costs of under-funding areas of the University will be significant and long lasting.

"This irresponsible project will result in the University having two bridges where an adequate bridge already exists, and a bill of $2 million.

"An obvious solution is to spend the $750,000 on the necessary new entranceway developments in St David St, and either spend the remainder of the $2 million on necessary academic or infrastructure expenses, or use it to help offset fee increases.

"The proposed bridge still faces some hurdles, such as resource consent from the Otago Regional Council (where a previous bridge project has failed in the past),” Mark Baxter said.

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