Panuku Development Auckland have revealed plans to replace the Wynyard Crossing bridge between North Wharf and Te Wero Island with bridge they hope to be completed in time for the America’s Cup.
The initial plans for Wynyard were for a much more grandiose bridge based on the outcome of a design competition to be built prior to the 2011 Rugby World Cup but that never happened due to funding constraints. The bridge we have today was built so there was at least some crossing and only ever intended to be temporary. Panuku say it “is reaching the end of its useful life and needs frequent and costly repairs to keep it running smoothly“.
As such, the plan is to replace it with a new architecturally designed bridge that they say will be bigger, lighter and more efficient.
“The new bridge will operate more efficiently and cater for the greater number of people who live, work and pass through Wynyard Quarter, as well as the surge of visitors expected to be spending time on the waterfront for the America’s Cup.
“Hosting AC36 will help to accelerate more projects like this. It will leave an infrastructure legacy for Auckland that will benefit our city well after the yachts have stopped racing.”
Allan Young, Panuku Director Development, says the replacement opening bridge will be visually spectacular and larger than the current bridge.
“The ‘double leaf’ design is a beautiful structure reminiscent of modern yacht masts or the wings of a large seabird,” says Young.
“It will be a landmark addition to an already thriving neighbourhood and will be something all Aucklanders can be proud of.”
The final design of the bridge, which is under consideration, will aim to meet three key criteria:
- to be of the highest design quality, offering design innovation and be capable of becoming an outstanding example of its type;
- make a positive and memorable contribution to the urban waterfront setting; and
- to recognise and celebrate the bridge’s role as a distinctive element in the east-west waterfront route.
The proposed ‘double leaf’ bascule bridge is expected to be 60% lighter to lift than a single arm design, using far less energy to operate.
Maintenance can be carried out on each arm separately, adding to the efficiency of the structure. It can also be built using smaller, less intrusive cranes.
The bridge has been designed by “Beca in association with Monk Mackenzie (architects) and Eadon Consulting (mechanical engineers) is behind the double leaf bascule bridge concept design”
Here is a video of the proposal.
The biggest issue I have with this proposed new bridge is the same one I have with the existing bridge, that it simply won’t be big enough. On this Panuku told me:
The existing bridge has a 4.4 metre wide useable deck. It will cater for pedestrians and cyclists, although as per the etiquette we ask users to observe while crossing the existing bridge, cyclists will be asked to dismount when crossing for the safety of everyone. The proposed new design is for a 6-metre-wide bridge. The proposed bridge design is a balance of the needs of all users including water craft, engineering challenges and operational efficiency. The new design also includes a substantial increase to the waiting area on each side.
A 6m wide bridge is an improvement but not by that much given how many people use it, especially on busy weekends. The fact they will still want cyclists to dismount, combined with some of the comments above suggests they have focused on looks and not on functionality or the user experience. Even another metre or two in width would add substantially to the usability. Also, ideally the walking and cycling parts should be separated. The bridge routinely averages close to 1,000 trips a day in summer months and on weekends is often eaily over 1,000.
One thing I’d also like to see is a revision, or even just a debate about the rules for when the bridge is opened. Currently anytime a boat wants to enter or exit the viaduct harbour the bridge opens, even if there are thousands of people wanting to cross. I understand there are certain conditions that were agreed in the past about this but just like how we use our streets is being rethought, so to should this crossing.
There’s also something to be said about the renders showing cars still parked on Te Wero Island.
The bridge has an indicative budget of $25.7 million but they say:
This is an early estimate that is made up of a range of components, including consultation and consenting, as well as the infrastructure cost to build the bridge itself. This budget may change as there is a lot more design work to be undertaken and a contestable procurement process to find out who is able to build the bridge, and at what cost.
As for timing
Providing resource consent is granted by mid-2019, construction will start in early 2020 and complete by the end of that year.
During construction, a temporary pontoon bridge will be in place for pedestrians to move between Te Wero Island and Viaduct Harbour.
If consent is delayed and the bridge is not able to be built by 2021, works will be undertaken to ensure the current crossing operates as efficiently as possible during a busy time.
There are also some public sessions to learn more about the bridge on April 13,14 & 17. Details are here.
This news also reminded me of the 2007 effort to build a bridge here. There were seven entries all up and all were to be much wider as the initial plan was to incorporate a road crossing too. Notably the winning design back then was also a double leaf, sail like design but it functioned very differently.
This design was the runner up and featured a bridge that rotated horizontally instead of lifting.