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:

  1. to be of the highest design quality, offering design innovation and be capable of becoming an outstanding example of its type;
  2. make a positive and memorable contribution to the urban waterfront setting; and
  3. 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 existing bridge is often so busy it can be hard to get across

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.

Some of the other entries are linked to here, here, here, here and here.

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69 comments

  1. So I like the design, I think its beautiful .

    But its another huge wasted opportunity as this is the only safe cycling route through the area and will be at crush capacity all through the event and as the area continues to grow. 1.5m is not even enough for what we need last week, never mind 3 yers from now.

    It’s beyond terrible and the same old shortsighted Auckland we all hate.

    The alternate route for ‘confident’ cyclists around viaduct avenue is horrible as you’re dealing with some of the most aggressive and entitled rat runners Auckland has to offer.

    1. IMHO there should be another two bridges across the viaduct harbour, one at Customs Street, the other across the mouth at the harbour.

      Cost and practicality aside, that would stitch the two sides together properly, and would be spectacular to see them all opening and closing at the same time too.

      The temporary pontoon bridge… could we use that on one of the other crossing points to test out the idea once the main bridge is finished?

  2. I’m excited and intrigued by this… but I can’t help but notice none of the bridge criteria cover the functionality of the design, the suitability of the width, grade and configuration for its primary users, the reliability of operations, the time it takes to open and close, the delay it presents to landside or vessel users.

    One hopes that the engineers on the team had such criteria in mind, as well as what are clearly Panuku’s criteria.

  3. Obviously the people managing this project have never tried to use the current bridge on a weekend. Huge streams of people making their way to and fro, only to be interrupted for several minutes by one or two people on a yacht. I’ve witnessed a situation where the crowds of delayed people had only just cleared when the bridge was opened again. It’s ridiculous.

    My first preference would be a fixed bridge (non-opening). This would be far cheaper and faster to build. It could have a deck a couple of metres higher than the existing bridge so that boats without masts could still go beneath it. The boats with masts can moor at Westhaven.

    If they really must build a bridge that opens, it should do so only infrequently and on a predictable schedule. Like once each hour, on the hour. That makes it easy for all users to plan around.

    1. I agree. A scheduled window for opening would be preferable, and reasonable. I wonder what it would cost Council to remove any ‘rights’ to free and unrestricted access to the open sea that property owners might have.

      Certainly they are legally required to be planning for all Auckland residents, present and future. And this would have to be an example of a property right that really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny on an equity basis.

      1. The idea of scheduled openings should be acceptable to people. Though the alternative to lots of short waits for bridge users while a few boats leave the basin is a few long waits while a flotilla of boats passes by.

        As a Bristolian, where the river Avon’s tide changes by 15 meters, the boaties were forced to only leave the floating harbour at high tide. As a land user the wait could be for ages 🙁

      2. I thought I read that it needs to open randomly to accommodate sailing ships etc that can’t stop and go easily. I’m sure a schedule would work just as well though, as boats should leave at a time that makes sense to get out. Coming in might be harder though.

        Could also just prevent boats without adequate controls accessing the area.

        1. I’m pretty sure everything coming and going from there would be using a motor, even the ex America’s Cup yachts. It sounds to me more like an excuse than a justifiable reason.

    2. I think the boats add to the viaduct area and I enjoy looking at them when I pass through. Many of these are tourist boats so pushing them to Westhaven will just make them less accessible.

      I agree regarding a scheduled opening, even if it were say three times an hour the disruption would be less than it is now. It could also then be signposted meaning people could time their walk to miss the disruption or see it if they want to watch the bridge open and boats go through.

      1. I agree jezza, even if you don’t particularly like boats they add a lot of character to a place, working (fishing) boats even more so.

    3. Have you used the one at Milford? Waited for fifteen minutes once. Couldn’t even see the boats for the first five minutes.

  4. Possibly the most useless video ever, in the history of the world, at explaining exactly how the bridge works. Giant swivelling white sticks poking up in the air tell us bugger all about what is happening on the ground plane – i.e. exactly what happens to where people walk. Could Panuku be any more obtuse?

    What are those sticks doing? Why do they swivel? Are they bascules? Counterweights? Are they connected with wire stays? How the hell does the bridge work, and why is it only 30% wider than the existing bridge? What happened to the original designs – did they get paid their winnings? Why not ask them back to complete their job?

    1. I find it frustrating, too. It leaves me wondering – do the boats have to stay further back from it to allow for the sideways movement than if it was a simple lifting bridge? In which case, will it need to be open for a longer time for each boat? Also, I’m left wondering – will people in small boats – say, teens having fun in a raft they made for a competition – be as safe near it as they would be for a simple lifting bridge? Just be good to see more details.

    2. The video seems to suggest that the sticks are the bridge. Clearly they are going to build two separate greasy log style structures for people to cross. When a boat comes the two greasy logs rotate up and away.

    3. Agreed 100%, a pointless frustrating video. Given the infinite angles they could have chosen to view the bridge, they picked a completely useless one.

    4. Its not a good video for working out the design but its a good idea how it will look to a pedestrian.

      Seems to be that the walking surface is split diagonally along its length, each side has one triangle of the walking surface & one rail.
      Sticky up bits are counter-weight.

      I like it.
      It resembles the original winning design but more buildable (its my understanding that aside from Council never allocating money there were some serious structural issues with the original design).
      Has nice sculpural forms both open & closed.

      Disagree entirely with frequent opening for boats being a negative.
      Except for relatively few people using it as actual work transit, most people are going there essentially to look at the boats.
      What better boat-watching experience than to wait at the bridge watching it make pretty shapes as it opens & closes then actually see a boat going in/out?
      Certainly whenever I’ve been there I’ve hoped to get to see the bridge do its thing even with the current bridge being cheaply pathetic & ugly.

      6m isn’t exactly narrow & the current bridge is effectively significantly narrower than its official width due to having the raising gear obstructing the middle of the path at each end.

  5. The bridge looks great and will be a lot better than the current one but…

    When are we going to get serious about cycling?? It’s been in our high level strategy for a while now, and I get that shared paths make it look like we’re doing something, but separation of the modes is necessary, especially at pinch-points like this.

    If we want to encourage cycling, we can’t just keep treating cyclists as an afterthought. From that perspective, the new bridge is deeply disappointing.

    1. My view is that cycling across this bridge is almost a red herring. Sure it’s popular on sunny weekends with people riding recreationally, and probably quite fit for purpose in that regard. Stopping to watch the bridge open and close is part of the experience.

      But for people riding bikes for transport this isn’t a particularly good route anyway. What we really need is a cycleway on Fanshawe Street, linking downtown and midtown to Wynyard, VIctoria Park, Three Lamps/Ponsonby and eventually the skypath. Flat, straight, direct and practically non-stop.

      There is a good five or six metre berm going unused, so why not?

      1. Well, for starters. Why would you give up a berm for yet more paved surface on a wide, wide road like that? Secondly, lots of people would go for a more interesting, scenic route that is away from the traffic and fumes.

        1. I’m thinking immediate implementation, something that could be done in the next couple of months.

          Longer term that whole street needs a do over with a road diet, trees, protected lanes etc.

          As for the scenic route, that would still be there and I’m not suggesting we ban cyclists from the bridge. But I ride along that way a couple times a week and I’m not interested in scenery, some times I just want to get to work or my meetings on time. Going around the waterfront is a huge diversion from the bottom of Queen St to the bottom of Wynyard, for example.

          1. If you put it through grass, could it be far enough away from the footpath to allow the stormwater from the path to infiltrate into the grass either side?

            I think the weird split footpaths on the Vic Park side of Halsey St are crying out for a quick fix, and a quick cyclepath too.

          2. ‘I think the weird split footpaths on the Vic Park side of Halsey St are crying out for a quick fix, and a quick cyclepath too.’

            THIS..I cycle on this and pretty sure AT define it as a shared path, yet its cracked, not suitable for runner, walkers or bikes and makes little or no sense and simply spills out without a proper curb onto the drive way onto Halsey Street.

          3. One is owned by Council, one by AT. Too hard to talk to each other, so we have two bad paths instead of one good one.

  6. Looks absolutely stunning. Finally investment in Auckland infrastructure that looks beyond just the absolute minimum required to achieve its function. What an exciting piece of art, something that will be loved by tourists and something we can be proud of. I’m sure the functional aspect will be revealed soon.

  7. This longevity of the existing “it’ll do for now” feeble attempt at a bridge we have now – from pre-RWC days shows, like the Cloud does as well.

    The danger of building “temporary” rush job with infrastructure.

    That ends up hanging around well past its use by date, on the basis of “sunk costs” and also “Well, at least you something you can use now. Stop complaining”

    Problem is as we know, the solutions presented here are ignoring the elephant in the room.

    We need a permanent bridge, and ideally one that offers good PT links as well.
    But can’t because of the boats that need to come and go.

    But solving the severance issue with Wynyard Quarter that the elephant demands causes poorly thought out solutions to be pursued.

    Other places have solved these problems in ways that are much better, inventive yet more practical, even if they are not cheaper than what is proposed here.

    But whatever we build its going to be around for decades. Rushing something through just because the Cup (or APEC, or just Christmas) is coming is short term thinking.

    Exactly the same thinking that got us the current mess in the first place!

    Take time, now, so we can (re)do it right the first next time.

    The bitterness of a poor quality solution will linger long after the “fragrance” of cheap price and/or delivery in time for the Americas Cup or whatever, is long forgotten.

    1. I think it has been a good approach. We’ve got ten stellar years out of that temporary cheap bridge, ten years of high usage and good connectivity.

      1. I’m going to miss the current bridge. I’ve always liked it and out of towners are always impressed by it. Even when showing folks from Hong Kong that area, they like the bridge…

        Te Wero island though… Man… They need to get rid of car parking, or at the very least tighten the restrictions more.

  8. ‘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.’

    So it’s going to cost at least $26M, that’s seems insanely expensive to me, at least for a city that is bulging at the seams with debt.

      1. The Canada St bridge seems like a bargain in comparison, not to mention it was done quickly and efficiently.

        I can’t help but think $26M could be used much more effectively in other places. Even if the current bridge requires maintenance to keep it going.

        1. Without seeing an engineers report, who can say if the current bridge can be maintained without major overhauls in the near term?

          Eventually you’d have to take it out of commission to replace bearings, for example.

      2. The Canada st bridge doesn’t move and isn’t designed for harsh marine environments. Also, as it’s a beam bridge it’s not capable of “loosing” a support pillar multiple times a day.

        In short, not directly comparable.

        That’s not to say that you couldn’t design a cheaper bridge, but there’s always a trade-off. You have to choose between 1) Cheap and ugly, but will last 20+ years. 2) Cheap and not ugly, but won’t win an beauty contests, lasts 10 years [the current bridge], 3) Pretty, but not cheap. Built to last.

        Building for that environment is never cheap if you want it to last, or look good. They should also design it to be strong enough for LR at a later stage.

  9. Why can’t they just build a fixed bridge that people doesn’t have to wait?

    I agreed a separated cycle way would be very useful.

    Also can the bridge be wide and strong enough to future proof for PT? Such as lightrail / electric bus / Huawei autonomous car to cross?

    1. Because there is a boat harbour with property titles that guarantee unrestricted access to the open sea, which are owned by a certain mercenary property company.

      1. Is it a property development company? Maybe they could be offered the right to develop some property more intensely in return for waiving that right? 🙂 Win win.

  10. “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.”

    How can it operate more efficiently as it look rather complicated to me? How do the mechanism work given it will be opening and closing many time a day without a wear and tear?

    Will it operate in a very windy weather given the structure is a lightweight?

    We need something bit more durable than the lightweight structure to last more than 20 years.

    So many questions……

    1. I guess that lightweight is a relative term. The wind loading is determined by more than surface area too and architectural flourishes can reduce the loading a lot – Look at the spirals on tall chimneys for a simple example.

      As for the mechanism… The current bridge would be creating load on pulleys and bearings, whereas the proposed bridge would mean moving from some kind of fluid radial bearing in the base and pulleys, to a fluid thrust bearing in the base with longer life.

      From the poor renders they’ve shown, the load is largely balanced – Meaning many options for the main bearings and less powerful gear required to do any moves.

  11. Looks like the deck of the bridge is split diagonally between the two swinging portions.

    Gorgeous in the video – however it’ll look a lot less clean in reality with the need to apply some kind of non-slip surfacing rather than leaving the whole thing pristine white.

    Seems like a less than ideal experience for bikes, prams, scooters and wheelchairs etc to have a giant seam/gap running diagonally across the deck of the bridge at all times.

  12. Why isn’t it being designed to take LRT?
    The existing bridge structure and mechanism is pretty basic, and not very old. I can’t see it costing much more to maintain than a new bridge.
    Most of the time there are not many people using it, even when there is a crowd it’s still OK, and going from 4.4m to 6m is hardly much different.
    I’d hope the council have better things to spend $27+M on.

      1. Will it? Why not just futureproof the design to give us the option? Given the progress we are currently making on Light Rail, ruling anything out now seems likely to back us into a corner we can’t get out of, ala AMETI.

        1. A light rail bridge would be much more expensive, probably makes more sense to just build the proposed one now and replace it with a LR bridge if LR ever goes that way.

        2. Honestly. It’s really stupid to run the light rail through the Viaduct. It’s already extremely busy with pedestrians and having a train running through every two minutes would be extremely disruptive and dangerous to them. They’d have to crawl through the area. Also, the bridge would have to go up at some point which would through off your timetabling as trains would be left waiting for the bridge. So you’re compromising a public space for a sub-optimal train line.

          1. The original bridge across the basin is heavy rail and two traffic lanes. Note the use of ‘is’. It is still there. The proposal is a rather feeble, in terms of capability, re creation of the past.

  13. Wynyard is a good and plain place for shopping malls , business, bars , big events. We have to develop this block to be the best.

  14. For greater efficiency, the boats should queue up and wait until the bridge is scheduled to open (say every 15 minutes during peak pedestrian hours).

    That will be more efficient than the bridge opening every time one single boat arrives, blocking hundreds of pedestrians.

    That way the boats will know and try to time their arrival time every quarter hour.

      1. Given my name, it should be obvious that the answer is yes. Only the very smallest boats come in under sail. Holding a small sail boat or any boat under motor still (or still enough) is easy.

  15. So the existing bridge needs maintenance, frequent repairs and has a higher energy requirement than this new design. $26 million worth?

    Has anyone got the details for how much the energy, maintenance and repairs are costing / likely to cost?

    Because it seems to me that in a city suffering multiple crises – for those they affect, I guess – that this isn’t a good use of that much money. Prioritising this project above safety, modeshift, infrastructure and housing improvements is all about swank.

    1. I have the suspicion that major mechanical elements have reached the end of their design life (think main radial bearings). So the maintenance costs won’t be _that_ high, but eventually you’ll need to decommission the bridge for a few weeks to replace major infra…

  16. Dismount? Really? I’ve cycled across that bridge many more times than I’ve walked across it and I’ve never dismounted. That’s ridiculous. Every crossing I’ve seen at least half a dozen other cyclists and none of them dismounted either. It’s far too long a span for that. If anything it needs a divided cycle lane.

    1. Yes it is a bit Calatrava eh? Isn’t there a thing where any city that builds a calatrava bridge immediately goes bankrupt? An overpriced designer footbridge is arguably the pinnacle of excess for a city. Just waiting for someone to propose starting to build on the Elliot tower site, then we know things are really about to go tits up.

      Calatrava, te la clava.

  17. 1st. We build a “viaduct” for direct connection to Wynyard industrial quarter. Rolling bascule bridge to allow small boat entry into “Viaduct Harbour.”
    2nd. We dredge Viaduct Harbour for 2000 Americas Cup syndicates. Direct connection not important so we remove section of viaduct, creating “Te Wero Island.” Bascule Bridge no longer need to roll but it is a heritage bridge so the mechanisms are kept in storage for future restoration
    3rd. Direct connection becomes important again for redevelopment of Wynyard Quarter. We have a design competition, winner is too expensive, so we build a sub-standard temporary lifting bridge.
    4th? Why don’t we restore the rolling bascule bridge for mono-hulls with masts (lifting on schedule, not randomly for up to quarter of an hour at a time) and restore the missing viaduct section with a permanent arched bridge lifted high enough (with approach ramps either side) for most motor boats and mid-sized catamarans to pass beneath?

  18. Once again cyclists are treated as nuisances, after thoughts and a second class transporrmode.transport mode.
    Can anyone tell me whatever happened to finishing (sorry don’t know the name of the project) the St Mary’s Bay boardwalk cycle to the viaduct? The last stage seems to be forever ‘construction delayed.’ Is it another victim of NZTA’s paralysis or this AT’s slow cycling works progress? Which reminds me why has the K Rd enhancements/ bike lanes project due to start last January not happened and gone quiet?

    1. This has some information on K Rd:
      https://www.bikeauckland.org.nz/project-watch-march-2019/

      “The Karangahape Road enhancements, a joint AT/ Council project, was set to begin early this year. We’ve been told by AT that ‘our plan at this stage is to start it by the end of April,’ but are also hearing from other quarters that there may be further delays. These last-minute slowdowns are frustrating, especially on such a great project, funded, consulted, consented, and ready to go.”

      Looks like you can sign up here for updates about the boardwalk:
      https://www.westhaven.co.nz/westhaven/the-forum/the-westhaven-plan/the-westhaven-promenade/

  19. Current signs say ‘cyclists please slow down’ and the statement has been issued of BAU. Scooters likely to be the biggest issue.

    1. Agree. You can’t really tell scooters to dismount and not instruct cyclists to do the same, even though (motorised) scooters are likely to be a bigger menace when foot traffic is high.

  20. The cost of the 285m long by 14m wide Te Matau a Pohe bascule bridge and 1 km of roadworks was $32 million. By comparison the $25.7 million price for the Wynyard crossing bridge seem a bit on the high side

    1. But… but… did you not read any of the above?

      The 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.

      It will be a landmark addition to an already thriving neighbourhood and will be something all Aucklanders can be proud of (because they’ll be paying for it)

      The final design of the bridge will aim to meet three key criteria:

      1. to be of the highest design quality, offering design innovation and be capable of becoming an outstanding example of its type;
      2. make a positive and memorable contribution to the urban waterfront setting;
      3. to recognise and celebrate the bridge’s role as a distinctive element in the east-west waterfront route.

      This is Auckland mate, we don’t build infrastructure on the cheap here. That way we know it is ‘world class’ and ‘iconic’. The wine & cheese function to celebrate it’s opening with cost $250,000 alone…

  21. Let’s be generous – the bridge could lift at ten minutes to the hour and ten minutes past the hour. That gives commercial operators the chance to have (say) a 10am charter sailing, time to get everyone on board, give everyone the safety briefing, and then exit at 10.10am. The sailing would return at (say) 10.50am or 11.50am in time for the next chartered sailing (presumably on the hour).
    Now that the commercial fishing operators have left the interior there isn’t really a need to have open slather any more. You could even have the bridge open/close on the half hour as well, if those yacht owners/commercial charters scream loudly enough – but a scheduled time needs to be implemented rather than just raising the bridge on demand (by boats)

  22. So why hasn’t Panuku taken into account C02 emissions and included public transport as was planned for in the original bridge design. Wouldn’t take much to run a shuttle service to and from Britomart.

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