A concept design for the Northern Pathway, a new separate structure for walking and cycling alongside the existing Auckland Harbor Bridge. Image / Supplied
The government has confirmed plans for a brand new cycle and pedestrian bridge across Waitematā Harbor – at an estimated cost of $ 685 million.
Transport Minister Michael Wood will announce the project today, which includes a new stand-alone structure just off the existing Harbor Bridge on the east (city) side. The new bridge will not carry buses or other vehicles.
The project is now approved and funded – and is expected to take five years to get approved and built.
The new bridge will be part of the Sentier du Nord, which will extend dedicated cycling and walking trails to Esmonde Road on the north shore, with connections to Northcote and Takapuna. The track will cost an additional $ 100 million.
The “indicative design” shows display screens running the full length of the deck, with seats stepped along its outer edge.
It will be a “specially designed quality option” and “exceptional tourist infrastructure,” said Wood.
Confirmation of a second port bridge precedes further announcements expected today on the government’s transportation infrastructure plans.
Wood revealed last month that the government was rethinking parts of the New Zealand Upgrade Program (NZUP), a $ 12 billion spending plan announced in January of last year.
The bridge is the first project confirmed as part of this overhaul.
“The NZUP supports our economic recovery,” said Wood, “but due to the rising costs of building Covid-19 around the world and the need to further reduce emissions, we are rebalancing the program to increase investment in rail, public transport, walking and cycling. “
Auckland’s existing transport plans are expected to result in an 8% increase in carbon emissions.
A new bicycle and pedestrian bridge was chosen because it is believed that a new structure attached to the existing bridge is not feasible.
New Zealand transport agency Waka Kotahi informed a small parliamentary committee in February that adding weight to the existing bridge would make it unsafe.
Attaching a trail to the existing bridge was to cost $ 260 million.
“We need this transport connection to move forward, but it’s technically not possible to attach it to the existing bridge without endangering the whole structure,” said Wood.
“A stand-alone structure is the safest option.”
He added: “Major international cities around the world have similar connections and we have all seen how well the Te Ara I Whiti / Lightpath has become, with the Northern Pathway having the potential to be a bigger tourist attraction. .
“Northern Pathway is the missing link in Auckland’s walking and cycling network. Aucklanders will finally be able to cross the harbor on foot or by bicycle.
“It is important to get it right and to ensure that it is a sustainable infrastructure, providing alternative modes of transport through the port and helping to reduce congestion on our Auckland roads.”
With the new bridge in five years, Wood also said he asked Waka Kotahi to present him with options for a bike and pedestrian path on the current bridge now. This would involve a test conversion of one or more existing taxiways.
Bike Auckland and the GetAcross coalition of cycling advocates have been calling for the trial for many months. Last Sunday, he held a rally near the bridge to protest the lack of action. After the rally, around 1,500 people passed a police barrier and climbed onto the bridge.
“Waka Kotahi will continue to work on how to provide temporary safe lane use trials on the existing port bridge for cyclists and pedestrians,” said Wood.
Waka Kotahi has already rejected the idea.
In a letter to Bike Auckland on May 6, Managing Director Nicole Rosie wrote: “At this point we are not considering interim options for walking and cycling on the Auckland Harbor Bridge prior to completion. from the Waitematā harbor section of the north track. . “
Since then, Wood has told the Herald that he “impressed Waka Kotahi that they should look at it from all angles.”
“We have heard the calls,” he said.
“There’s a lot of rush and a lot of frustration. If it’s possible and safe, I can’t wait to give it a try.
“I gave them weeks, not months. I told them I wanted to see options on my desk.”
The minister also said work was underway on an indicative business case for a new port passage – which is expected to be a tunnel – which will include public transport and may or may not include other vehicles.
“It will focus on public transport,” he said.
“I don’t know if he also carries cars. At this point, we haven’t closed any options. “
This new passage was likely a tunnel, but Wood said he didn’t believe it would be a tube lowered to the seabed.
“I understand that there is a preference for a bored tunnel.”
When asked why the new cycle and pedestrian bridge had been approved before a cycling test on the existing bridge could take place, Wood said the new bridge offered a “quality option that we can all be proud of” .
“But we remain open-minded on how to get the most out of any existing infrastructure.”
He also revealed that Waka Kotahi had considered cycling across the bridge using gondolas and a dedicated ferry or bus service. However, all of these options were rejected.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-03 17:00:30