A New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) proposal to build a walking and cycle way over Auckland’s Harbour Bridge is now expected to cost up to $140 million.
According to a spokesperson for the NZTA, a business case for the project is expected to be completed later this year. Construction is then scheduled to start in 2020.
Last year Transport Minister Phil Twyford committed $67 million from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) towards building a walkway and cycleway over the bridge as part of a larger $390 million walking and cycling investment package. But the exact cost of the project hadn’t been established at the time.
But a spokesperson for the agency says the NZTA funded project is now expected to cost between $100 million and $140 million. They say while there is money in the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) to partially fund it, more funding will have to be allocated for the project than was originally planned.
“The total expected cost is $100 million to $140 million, but we will have more certainty on the cost of construction once the business case is completed later this year.”
NZTA general manager of system design and delivery Brett Gliddon says a range of options have been considered since last year, but the preferred option now is a five metre wide path to allow for separation between people on foot and on bikes.
“We’re confident this will deliver the safest, most enduring solution not only for people now but also for future generations, and that it will become much more than just a transport connection,” he says.
“The Transport Agency acknowledges the tireless work and dedication of those who have campaigned for a walking and cycling connection across the bridge, in particular the SkyPath Trust. While recognising their vision and legacy the NZTA is also mindful of its role to ensure that we deliver the best outcomes and value for money for all New Zealanders.
“We are committed to transforming walking and cycling in Auckland and this design offers the most far reaching and enduring benefits.”
In an interview on Radio NZ Gliddon said there have been design issues involved with the project as the Auckland Harbour Bridge is a complex structure.
Early designs would have seen the path attached to the clip-ons. But Gliddon said they move up to 700 millimetres when heavy vehicles travel over them, so the agency decided to revisit its design options. The NZTA’s design will now instead see the pathway attached to the structure of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed this week’s announcement from the NZTA.
“Being able to walk and bike between the North Shore and the city centre for the first time will be exciting and transformative for the city," he says. “It allows choice of travel for commuters, recreational users and tourists, and will take pressure off the congested road way.
“The best news, however, is that we now have a time frame with the announcement that construction will start next year. Like most Aucklanders, I want to see this happen as soon as possible.”
Councillor Chris Darby says he's pleased to see some progress with the project.
“It has been 12 long years for me, steering this project towards fruition, so I'm relieved to see genuine progress being made. The walking and cycle way over the Harbour Bridge will be a beacon for biking, a call to Aucklanders to get active and get connected. It will be a 'what took you so long' success story,” Darby says.
The SkyPath Trust had campaigned over a number of years for the construction of a joint walkway and cycleway over the Auckland Harbour Bridge and had even gained resource consent to proceed with the project. It had expected to be involved in the design of the project, but has since been side-lined by the NZTA which has now taken on the lead role.