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Harbour Bridge Pathway: what do you think?

Harbour Bridge Pathway: what do you think?

Aucklanders are being asked what they think of the concept designs for a cycle and pedestrian pathway on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Mayor Len Brown, MP Nikki Kaye and Hopper Developments CEO Leigh Hopper today (August 21) unveiled the concept designs for the proposed pathway at a function in Auckland’s new Wynyard Quarter.

The design features a walkway and cycleway up to four metres wide which has a preliminary costing of between $23m and $31m. The final cost depends on whether or not additional facilities are included such as special effects night lighting and observation platforms.

The cost of the Pathway’s construction, maintenance and operation can be funded by a toll of $2 per trip. Hopper Developments has provided a proposal for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Auckland Council to deliver the Pathway.

Mayor Len Brown says he is pleased to support the launch of the designs.

“I congratulate the Pathway Working Group for putting the designs together. Auckland Council has encouraged the development of the concept and we are working on progressing it in partnership with the developers

“I support workable options for walking and cycling across our harbour. This project could become one of Auckland’s iconic attractions and be of huge benefit to people on both sides of the bridge.”

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AHB Pathway project director Bevan Woodward says 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.”

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

Hopper’s Leigh Hopper says it has been a complex process because the project has social and commercial elements which need to be taken in to account.

“The numbers stack up,” Mr Hopper says. “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.”

Architect Barry Copeland says 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,” Mr Copeland says. “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 says 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. We’re pleased to have agreed upon a viable solution with NZTA.”

Mr Woodward says the design ensures all pedestrians and cyclists on the facility are within a controlled and monitored environment at all times.

“The Pathway will provide a safe and pleasant experience for cyclists and pedestrians at all times. Numbers on the bridge will be controlled by toll gates at each end to ensure NZ Transport Agency safety standards are adhered to.

“There is an option for including three observation platforms which will provide a place to stop and take in the view. The observation platforms could include a coffee stand, art and information displays.”

Mr Woodward says security is in the form of CCTV, intercom / alarms, security staff on-site and police surveillance from the traffic control station on Northcote Point.

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.

On the northern side, it is proposed the Pathway connects to Princes Street, Northcote Point where the local street network provides access to Northcote, AUT University, Glenfield, Birkenhead, Takapuna and other North Shore suburbs and facilities.

Toll barriers will monitor and control the number of Pathway users and work continues with NZTA to finalise user numbers and to gain its official approval for such a control system, Mr Woodward says.

“The proposed $2 toll compares favourably with the minimum bus fare of $3.40 from Fanshawe St to Onewa Rd or a Northcote ferry ticket price of $4.90. A survey among 11,000 supporters shows 85 per cent in support of a toll if NZTA was unable or unwilling to fund the Pathway.”

Alex Swney from the Auckland Heart of the City CBD business group welcomes progress on the Pathway. “This is great news for Auckland. The Pathway very much supports the 100 per cent pure image of New Zealand and will enhance Auckland’s brand as a gateway to the country. We see it as being another important spoke in our tourism offering here in Auckland.

“We very much welcome the progress that has been made with the assistance of the council and NZTA.”

Mr Woodward says the group is also planning a programme of community consultation liaising with Northcote and city-side residents to address any concerns about the proposed pathway.

Aucklanders can have their say about the AHB Pathway Project design at www.getacross.org.nz from 3pm Sunday 21 August.

Ends

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