The Nelson St cycleway should start to feel a lot more real soon with the bridge connecting Canada St to the old Nelson St Offramp about to start being installed.


Nelson Street Cycleway bridge makes its way to Auckland

An iconic component of the Nelson St Cycleway, the Canada St Bridge, is taking shape and being transported to Auckland’s Central Motorway Junction (CMJ) project site in mammoth sections starting this week.

Over the next month large pieces that make up the Canada St Bridge will be transported from the factory in Pukekohe, where they’ve been painted, through Auckland, to the CMJ where they will be lifted into place.

The NZ Transport Agency’s State Highways Manager, Brett Gliddon says anyone using State Highway 1 or the local roads while these bridge sections are being moved won’t be able to miss it because of their large scale.

“The structure is certainly impressive in terms of its engineering, architectural design and size, and a number of full motorway closures will be necessary to transport and install the bridge. We will do everything we can to minimise the disruption and hope road users are patient while we carry out work on this vital link in the Auckland Cycle Network.”

The structure will connect Canada St with the old Nelson St off-ramp by crossing the Central Motorway Junction. The Nelson St Cycleway, which connects the Northwestern Cycleway, Grafton Gully and the waterfront, forms a crucial link in the Auckland Cycle Network to promote cycling as a safe and convenient mode of transport throughout the city.

Phase 1 of the Nelson Street Cycleway from Upper Queen Street to Victoria Street West is expected to be completed in December. Phase 2 will continue to Quay Street and consultation for this section is due to get underway soon. More information is available at

The Nelson St Cycleway is being funded through the Urban Cycleway Programme (UCP) and is being jointly delivered by Auckland Council, the NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport. The UCP will accelerate key projects over the next three years and help establish cycling as an integral part of Auckland’s transport network.

The 160m steel Canada St Bridge weighs 260 tonnes and is being constructed in eight smaller sections. Since mid-July, 3 sections varying between 14 and 42 metres have been transported overnight from a Hamilton factory to Pukekohe for painting and erosion protection. Sections are being delivered to the paint shop every 8 to 10 days up until September. The bridge will then be erected in stages during September.

“Our Hamilton-based fabricators are working around the clock to deliver the bridge on time,” says Mr Gliddon. “We’re looking forward to getting it in place safely and securely.”

While the bridge is being built off-site, there’s also plenty of progress at the Nelson St site including improvements on the old motorway off-ramp and upgrades at the Union/Nelson and Pitt/Hobson St intersections. Work on the dedicated cycleway down Nelson St to Victoria St West is also underway.

Here’s what one segment looks like

Painted bridge (2)

I’m looking forward to this and the rest of the cycleway being open.

Nelson Street Cycle Route map

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  1. Nice project, but I really want some cycleways that go the way cyclists actually want to go frather than these ones that follow motorway-type routes. Phase 2 is more in line this idea.

    1. Hi, this bridge, and part of the cycleway is being paid for by NZTA, and is located on their land. They also paid for and built the Grafton Gully cycleway, which again is on their land. NZTA are slowly becoming NZ’s top cycleway builders – they will be doing more cycleways, but it will be on their land, which is, as you probably know, right beside motorways.

      1. Fair enough, but they do need to stop designing these like motorways; cycleways are improved by having multiple connections; ‘friction’ is not an issue with cycleways. Not so much with this rather unique one, but Grafton Gully desperately needs much more connection; the Cemetery, upper Whittaker Place, the Architecture School, and most critically; Wellesley street.

        1. Couldnt disagree more.
          The Grafton Gully shared path is a nightmare with students walking on it. Opening up more will only increase the danger. Students walking 4 abreast hearing a bike approach split, but one of the group will want to join their mates and the other side of the path and steps in front of the cyclist. Happens all the time. Factor in the speed and goodness knows how many accidents have taken place so far. Shared paths when people walk in groups is rubbish.

          1. To clarify some more – the new path will be a shared path from Upper Queen to Nelson St – varying in width from 3+m at Upper Queen to the actual on-ramp, where it will be a minimum of 4m (at seats) and 6m (for the rest of the on-ramp).

            On Nelson St itself, the cycleway will be cycle only, ranging from ~2.9m at some pinch points to 3m standard, with some sections slightly wider. Peds retain the normal footpaths.

          2. What bugs me about Grafton Gully is that it was so predictable that pedestrians would want to use the whole thing. (And why shouldn’t they?) But they still designed it as if a ‘cycle-only’ path was a workable idea. I just try not to be on it between five to and five past the hour.

          3. CAA got the northern university section widened by 1m because of that same concern – we could see it being popular for peds from way back. Imagine it being only 3m wide!

            We would have loved it have separate sections, but even now, 2-3 years onward, there’s still resistance to the extra complications/costs of separate paths.

      1. Not to mention cyclists have to cross back over when the majority of the city is to the eastern side. Cyclists again get second best and all because of a couple of car parks that are too hard to remove.

        1. There’s a couple factors that play into this. There’s a strong right turn movement at Cook Street, so you are right, this moved the cycleway to the west side. On the other hand, if you are not crossing right (coming north) at Cook St yourself, then the new arrangement will give you a much better light phasing as a cyclist heading onward. Especially with the left turning cars into Cook becoming banned.

          Further north, yes you have to eventually cross right. There will be a diagonal signal at Victoria / Nelson, which should be phased pretty generously (more so than Beach Road) and runs together with the peds. If we play nicely when mixing with them (it works at Grafton Bridge / Symonds) that should allow you to then cross to/from all directions, not just onwards northwards.

    1. The cycleway will have crossings to the left and right, over the two sets of off-ramps that the frmer off-ramp ends between. If you continue north along Nelson St, you will cross on another (modified existing pedestrian) signal and then you’re on the Nelson St proper cycleway.

  2. Eeee, thats a gorgeous bit of steel. I thought the render was a bit optimistic, but this is a nice piece of work. Hats off to the people who fabricated this one…

        1. …except that the Urban Cycleways Programme is funded out of general taxation (you know, that everyone pays – so I guess everyone is entitled to use it…)

          1. …except that over a third of that comes from the National Land transport fund.

            And we all know who pays that.

          2. Well, me for a start, when I’m driving; and I’m quite happy for some of my petrol dollars to go towards more effective congestion solutions like building more cycleways – far more productive use of my money than low-BCR road capacity works…

          3. And Tony drivers are first beneficiaries of a lift in Active and Transit mode use; it frees up our existing and lavish driving amenity for those who choose or need to still drive.

            Most usefully of course for trucks and trades.

    1. When I started in engineering you couldn’t build with steel as that would have allowed the boiler makers union onto your site. They had a monopoly on working steel over some arbitrary thickness. So instead everything was built in concrete, big chunky slabs of the stuff which in turn led to the solid rectangular look of everything.

  3. The NZTA traffic cameras on the internet have changed. The one on the Met service site used to point to where the bridge will be built, this would have allowed people to see the bridge as it is being constructed. Unfortunately with the new NZTA web site we cannot now see the installation online as it progresses.

  4. I can never understand why they lean handrails inwards as shown in your photo; it just accentuates the feeling of narrowness. Makes no sense in regards to bikes either; handlebars are typically wider than pedals. Still, minor grumble; looking forward to seeing the finished product.

    (BTW, you seem to have a stray “be” in your first sentence…)

    1. It gets worse Glen. Some ham-fisted NZTA engineer has specified full prison fencing for the whole route on the abandoned lane. 3m high and gorilla proof; after all those bike users are a dangerous lot, and the poor motorists have to be protected from them.

      Saddly, unlike the elegant bridge; designed in Auckland and fabricated in the industrial heartlands of the Tron, these barricades are being made in Germany and were ordered under urgency and despite requests they wouldn’t even let anyone outside of their manse see the designs. I knew this was coming and did everything I could to rally some sort of rethink but NZTA can be a paranoid tower at times and no daylight was allowed near this sorry business.

      Clever technical people are bloody marvellous but they do need adult supervision at all times. This one got away on us.

  5. The construction looks amazing, but it does seem like connecting it to Canada street is a bit pointless. Doesn’t really provide a naturally useful shortcut. If it’d connected over to Ian Mckinnon drive, down under the Newton Rd flyover – that would’ve been cool.
    Just saying…

    1. And totally avoid the CBD? Not so cool. It finishes up on Upper Queen right where the Grafton Gully cycleway starts.Good connect to Ian McKinnon from there.

      1. I don’t get where you’re coming from. I meant being able to ride up Dominion Rd, or from the west, straight over to Nelson.
        Don’t get me wrong, it’ll be great to have a dedicated cycle way with harbour views, but as a cycle commuter I personally prefer the most direct route.

        1. Kind of depends on where your’e going i.e. if you were heading for somewhere like Wynyard then this route would me more direct than say Queen St. As for Queen St, the images we’ve seen with Light rail all show cycle lanes on it so that would also be direct – although possibly slow with all the intersections

    2. An earlier (as in, many, many years earlier) scheme had the NW Cycleway cross to the north side at Canada St over the western heart of the Spaghetti Junction. I understand the bridges required for that cost about half the cost of SkyPath. I think this will work fine, even if you do have to head up onto the Uppper Queen St bridge crest. The ones really getting a great deal are people from Newton/Mt Eden cycling to the western city centre. We really need better cycle links along that route to make both Grafton Gully and Nelson St get their full potential.

  6. The high sides should not be a surprise given the history of vandals through objects on to the motorway. But it would have been much nicer if it was metal bottom and glass/plastic top as on the K road overbridge.

    1. There is zero history of any throwing off the nearby Hopetoun viaduct, which does however have photographers enjoying the civilised and open view above this very site, and 1.2m fence seemingly every night.

      The K Rd fence is exactly what it will be like, ie hideous and blocking. All oversized structure plus fiddly ‘decoration’; some suburban engineer’s defence against their terror of the city.

    2. the whole CMJ is full of over bridges, are we going to see 3m high wire fences constructed on the bridges of upper queen st, symonds st, bond st, hopetown? It doesn’t show any in the city centre master plan, rather it shows these connections becoming humanised.

      1. I’m afraid the humans are not in control, the fear-bots are: How can we reverse this structural problem where the technicians have been elevated to making policy level decisions in transport?

        This is the big hangover from the coup of last century: the traffic engineering tail is still wagging the city building puppy.

        How can we build a 21st century City with the power structures inherited from the 20th?

  7. The bit connecting to Quay St looks interesting, given that the ramp there is currently one way, for vehicles. Are they planning to nix it to cars in 2016 or just create a dedicated cycleway (presumably two way) within that ramp?

    1. And regarding the dotted lines marked Option A and Option B: why not do both? You could have one way cycle lanes on each (presumably separated from vehicles) that follow the current direction for vehicles. That would assist in teaching fellow road users on both major road routes that they are sharing with cycles now.

      1. Yes I’ve said that to them

        Edit: to clarify I’ve said they should do both routes, not that they should be one way each. Both should at least be two way

    2. CAA strongly supported B if it could be only one. However, it’s almost certain now they will chose Option A, and will not use the flyover.

      Issues with the CRL-related temporary bus routes and Albert St reconstruction were cited. They said they will be able to look at this again once that work is over, and also once the fly-over itself comes down. Until then, to get the trains through, there will be some compromises for bikes :-/

  8. I would rather not hear so much that not enough is being spent on cycleways. And I have little patience of those who simply don’t like anything that is actually done because it isn’t what they would do or what can be done only with unlimited, non-competitive budgets. “There will be compromises for bikes”? You bet there will. But meantime, a lot of money is being spent on cycleways. You may look back on this as a golden age.

    1. I agree, this is a global golden age for cycleways, or at least the beginnings thereof. However my only objection here is not they they aren’t spending enough but that NZTA are vastly and unnecessarily over-engineering and over-spending on the barriers for a seriously bad outcome. And one that is completely contrary to their higher altitude task of promoting the Active modes, delivered to them from the Prime Minister down. These barriers not only militarise the route they also conceal its use from potential future riders currently in their cars.

      It is a backward step and, probably unconscious, a sort of reflex defence of their historic role as lavish promoters of driving at all times and for all journeys.

    2. Are you refering to the likes of me? I’d just like to see some cycleways along some busy interesting streets. In my neck of the woods, that’s be, for example, ponsonby road, Franklin road, Karangahape road, Symonds St. These are the places I cycle every day, there is room there for cycle facilities, facilities wouldn’t cost that much but there is a distinct lack of political will and ability to push a few (often parked) cars aside and make room for the bikes. .

      I love riding on the new flash cycle paths like grafton gully but but it is typically well out of my way and will likely always be so because it is next to nothing (compared to say, Symonds St).

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