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Auckland Harbour Bridge pathway gains traction with unveiling of designs

Barring a few public events like the Auckland Marathon, there is little opportunity for the public to cross the Auckland Harbour Bridge via methods that don’t involve cars, motorbikes or trucks. But on Sunday the move to install a cycle and pedestrian pathway on the bridge gained traction when Mayor Len Brown, MP Nikki Kaye and Hopper Developments chief executive Leigh Hopper unveiled the concept designs for the proposed pathway at a function in Auckland’s new Wynyard Quarter. The initiative for the pathway has been driven by Pathway Working Group, a team of professionals committed to delivering a world-class pathway across the bridge. 

The group’s designs have been professionally prepared by Copeland Associates Architects and structural engineers Airey Consultants and Holmes Consulting Group. They feature a cycleway and covered walkway of up to four metres, that latter of which is cocooned under the southbound Harbour Bridge clip-on with a perforated aluminium screen enabling views of the city, harbour and Hauraki Gulf. 

Costing for the project has been put at between $23m and $31m, with the final cost dependent on whether or not additional facilities are included such as special effects night lighting and observation platforms. 

On the Auckland City side the pathway connects directly to Westhaven Drive, which is part of Auckland City’s existing 50-km cycling circuit, and provides access to the CBD via Westhaven and the Wynyard Quarter development.  Connection into Ponsonby is provided by existing walking and cycling path along Curran Street or via Shelley Beach Road. 

For the northern side, proposals are in place for the pathway to connect to Princes Street atNorthcote Point ,where the local street network provides access to Northcote, AUT University, Glenfield, Birkenhead, Takapuna and other North Shore suburbs and facilities. 

Architect Barry Copeland said the design challenges have been both technical and in how to meet the brief. 

“With so many stakeholders – users, NZTA and its engineers, the promoters – there have been lots of people involved,” he said.  “Then there is the challenge of how you put the whole thing together at the same time ensuring every piece is marine treated to withstand the harsh environment in which the bridge exists.” 

Engineer Roger Twiname from Airey Consultants Ltd said the pathway structure in itself is pretty much “Engineering 101”. 

“The primary challenge has been to understand the unique attributes of the AHB as a transport life line to the north, and to agree on an engineering solution that meets all the various loading and traffic capacity requirements for the bridge, now and into the future.” 

A toll of $2 per trip has been proposed as a means to fund the pathway’s construction, maintenance and operation, meanwhile Hopper Developments has provided a proposal for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Auckland Council to deliver the pathway. Tollgates will also ensure NZ Transport Agency safety standards are followed.  

Hopper’s Leigh Hopper described the process as complex because the project has social and commercial elements which need to be taken in to account.

 “Our research, which is based on deliberately conservative financial modelling, shows a PPP is quite capable of achieving the required level funding which can be supported by the toll and the sale of naming rights.” 

Brown, who pledged his support for the pathway as part of his campaign promise,  said he supports “workable options for walking and cycling across our harbour” and that the Auckland Council was working on progressing the development of the pathway in partnership with developers. 

“This project could become one of Auckland’s iconic attractions and be of huge benefit to people on both sides of the bridge,” he said. 

Project director Bevan Woodward said getting to the design stage has been “a huge effort” that goes back to around 2000. 

“But there is new goodwill from both the Auckland Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency. We are working to have Aucklanders walking and cycling across their bridge by early 2013.” 

Aucklanders can have their say about the Pathway Project design at www.getacross.org.nz.