News has been fairly quiet on SkyPath for some time however that appears set to change with news that the resource consent for the project is due to be lodged tomorrow.
Auckland’s SkyPath is a step closer to construction but its chief planner admits the project is battling funding hurdles, complaints from residents and a lack of political support.
Resource consents for the shared walkway/cycleway attached to the side of the Harbour Bridge are due to be lodged next week, following more than 10 years of planning.
The SkyPath could open as early as 2016 but it would come at a cost, with entrance fees of at least $3.50 each way or $2 each way with a Hop card.
Project director Bevan Woodward said he was optimistic the latest designs would be approved but was realistic about the potential for difficulties and delays.
”With everything involved in this, it has taken longer than expected,” he said.
Resource consent represents a major advance for the project but one that will see serious opposition, particularly from a vocal minority that live in Northcote Point.
But not all have shared his optimism for the project, with several disgruntled residents arguing too many people would be parking near their homes and that users might display anti-social behaviour.
Woodward said he had looked to counter those fears by employing two security guards, and said consultations had worked with Northcote Point residents to find the best solution.
The Northcote Residents’ Association said it had major concerns about the SkyPath but was ”not in a position to make any public statement about the project”.
North Shore ward councillor George Wood has stated he was publicly opposed to the SkyPath, but fellow North Shore councillor Chris Darby said feedback he received from residents showed a ”phenomenal level of support”.
Darby said the SkyPath was 55 years overdue and would follow through on the original plan for the bridge, which, before its 1959 build, included designs for a rail line and a 2-metre walkway, similar to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
”I’m optimistic that this is a project whose time has come,” he said.
”I would suggest there’s a minority concern. But all the surveys I’ve seen for Auckland city-side residents and North Shore residents are in favour of it.”
Also now seemingly tied in with SkyPath is Auckland Transports proposal to improve cycling routes from Northcote all the way through to Smales Farm which has brought government minister Jonathan Coleman into the debate complaining about parking. Both Coleman and Wood have now setup a meeting for tonight on Northcote cycle improvements in a bid to fire up locals against the project. If you live in the area and support both SkyPath and the improved cycling infrastructure in the area I would urge you to go along and make your voice heard
The comment that there is no such thing as a residents parking zone is a bit comical and perhaps they should ask the residents just over the St Marys bay about that. Speaking of comical, George Wood has also created this video about both projects featuring highlights such as:
- Suggesting a concrete is historic which can’t have its layout changed.
- Suggesting a concrete road is an icon of Auckland
- Saying parking is at a premium due to the historic nature of the area in which residents don’t have off street parking followed by a shots of houses, all of which have off street parking and in which there is still plenty of on street parking available.
- On street parking being used to park a boat
- The owner of the Northcote Tavern not supporting cycling improvements as he fears locals won’t be able to drive to have a drink – again notice plenty of on street parking not occupied.
- A shot looking towards the bridge again with heaps of available on street parking.
- George talking to a supposedly NIMBY cat
- Scaremongering that the SkyPath will be too heavy for the bridge.
As far as I’m aware George is the only councillor who has opposedSkyPath to date which is odd considering how many of his constituents both at Northcote Point and in other areas of the North Shore would benefit from the project.
There have also been some new details starting to emerge with these two documents uploaded to Scribd. by George showing what appears to be some new images of the project.
While this one is the result of a research report into the potential patronage of SkyPath. From memory one of the reasons for this report was that some locals didn’t believe the previous ones completed were correct. The report says the outcome is very similar to the previous studies done which is basically that a lot of people will use SkyPath and that most would access the bridge by cycling to it, not driving like some residents like to suggest.
I’m looking forward to seeing more detail about the project when the resource consent is announced.
Of course even once constructed there is on issue about the project that is likely to be debated for some time to come and that’s the fee to access the path. The Auckland Harbour Bridge will probably be the only place in the world where cyclists pay to cross while cars can do so for free. Sadly even with a change of government that position might not change.
Eventually, he was hoping that once the SkyPath was up-and-running, a future transport minister might decide to allocate $33m to buy out the project, removing the need for tolls.
A spokesman for Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said that remained a hypothetical question that the minister couldn’t answer, while Labour’s transport spokesman Phil Twyford said ”it seems like the organisers have put together a PPP that could work and I don’t see any need to interfere with that”.
Dealing with whether we should be paying a fee to cross the bridge is something for a future discussion though and not something I’d want holding up the construction of one of Auckland’s most important projects.