Back in May the NZTA announced the new design for Skypath, the Auckland Harbour Bridge Shared Path. Their new design is for a wider, 5m path but at the time they said they were still working on how it would connect at each end. Since then the engineers have come up with two options and are seeking feedback on them – feedback is open until Wednesday 4 September.. The two options re explained in more detail below but in short they are:

  1. Ramps
  2. Lifts and stairs

Just from that description alone it seems like a no brainer that it feels like a sham consultation as I can’t think of many situations where #2 would be better. Here are the two options.

Option 1: Ramps

This option, which is emerging as our preferred design includes a ramp design that is simpler and shorter than the consented SkyPath ramp(s) on the northern side, and would connect seamlessly to the wider path of the new preferred design. The new ramp design aims to further reduce effects through its smaller footprint and urban design treatments, along with integration with the SeaPath section of the shared path.

The ramps (one at each end of the bridge) have been designed by the Transport Agency to connect with the five metre-wide shared path. This design offers a highquality user experience as well as a high level of safety because there is higher clearance under the bridge; and, in contrast to the lift/ramp design, there are no waiting times for people.

The bends are wider than the consented option to preserve the width and accessible gradient of the path.

There are good opportunities for urban design and placemaking under the bridge and we can explore these with mana whenua, the local community and people who will use the path during the next phase.

These ramps will be relatively low cost to operate and maintain because there is good access to them.

On the north side (Northcote Point) there is a smaller footprint for this ramp design under the AHB than the SkyPath ramp option, meaning less impact on residents.

The challenges that the Transport Agency is considering include: any additional consenting that may be required, and the increased cost of these ramps, which is balanced by the better level of service provided by the five metre-wide connection.

We are also considering the effects of a new pier in place of the consented SkyPath columns in Stokes Point Reserve on the northern side. We are aware of concerns around change of character and traffic impacts on the surrounding community and we will continue to work with people about these issues.

Northern Landing

Southern Landing

Option 2: Lifts and stairs combination

This option has been designed by the Transport Agency to ensure that we have investigated all possibilities. At this stage it is less preferred than the emerging ramps option. Comparable bridge paths around the world often have this sort of entry and exit, but it is almost always in addition to a ramp.

This option proposes two high-speed lifts at each end of the bridge which would be designed to accommodate pedestrians, people with bikes, and those travelling with mobility aids, along with a single staircase at each end.

The key benefit of this solution is that some people would find it less visually intrusive than a ramp and it also has a smaller footprint. There would be good opportunities for creative urban design and artwork on the structure.

There are quite a few challenges with this option including the cost to build, monitor and maintain the lifts. People with bikes would not be able to use the stairs, so they would need to dismount and have delayed journeys waiting for the lifts. During times of high demand, there could be crowding issues as people with bikes need to line up to use the lifts.

There are more potential safety issues associated with this option because people would have to wait underneath the bridge for the lift and if there was a lift failure, it would have a significant impact on accessibility and waiting times.

On the north side, the location of the lifts and stairs in the Stokes Point Reserve may create negative environmental and cultural impacts.

Northern Landing

Southern Landing

Given the choice, it’s hard to see why someone would choose the lifts and stairs option.

The NZTA still say the soonest this can start construction is at the end of 2020 so this in’t something that is about to start soon.

For more information, you can also look at the Bike Auckalnd post on it.

Seapath

While we’re on the topic, it’s also worth mentioning that a few days ago the NZTA announced they’ve awarded a contract to start the design and consenting phase of SeaPath, the project that will link Skypath to Esmonde Rd along the motorway.

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39 comments

  1. Oh…my…God. It’s not going to happen is it!

    What next, a committee to oversee consultation phase on the shades of paint that may be used?

    Stop buying time
    Stop delaying
    Stop taking the piss out of your hapless detached clueless transport minister and just get on with it.

    What a farce and what a wasted opportunity for Auckland.

    1. There is a misconception that SeaPath was a fully developed proposition. It was not. It was largely a back of the envelope bit of wishful thinking backed up by all manner of bogus statistics to try and ensure funding that contradicted their arguments about the impact.

      Yes it would be great if this was already underway but what NZTA is proposing is a far better solution IMO.

    2. This is a completely different design to the original SkyPath (and one that addresses quite a few issues of the original one); arguably the only thing in common is that it goes from one side of the harbour to the other. So not surprisingly, the new design has to go through the usual checks and audits before moving on.

  2. I did my submission on the options for the ends of the harbour bridge shared path last week. I found it confusing. It appears to be a consultation about two options
    1/ ramps
    2/ elevator and lifts
    but then seemed to use the term ‘ramps’ when talking about both options.

    Don’t know if I’d just had too much coffee but if I’m right it’ll be very hard to make sense of the submissions.

    1. I find most submission templates less than logical. It seems that a decision is pre-made so submissions are gently guided to supporting that decision. Extra coffee neither helps nor hinders!

      1. NZTA do not want a lift solution and have no intention of proceeding with any version that includes them. It is ramps only – as drawn

    2. Is ramps and stairs an option? I mean that is kind of the traditional way. Stairs for people on foot and ramps for the people on wheels.

    3. Yes seems they just want the ramp option. I just made it clear that’s what I want, not stairs & lifts.

      Their PDF brochure on it says it clearly that the “emerging concept” they talk about is: “Option 1: Ramps (emerging concept design)”

      On option two it says: “Option 2: Lifts and stairs combination
      This option has been designed by the Transport Agency to ensure that we
      have investigated all possibilities. At this stage it is less preferred than the
      emerging ramps option. Comparable bridge paths around the world often
      have this sort of entry and exit, but it is almost always in addition to a ramp.”

  3. OMG!!!!!!

    Is Engineering is about problem solving? They should be able to come up with a solution and stop mucking around and get on with it. Otherwise it will never be done.

  4. The one place I am familiar with that has a lift, is from the bridge that crosses the motorway from Jacob’s Ladder in Saint Mary’s Bay to Westhaven Drive. More pedestrian oriented than cycling. The elevator functions due to it’s limited patronage. Sky Path might expect hundreds of cyclists if not thousands on any given day, which would of course render any limited elevation device useless. That NZTA has to develop a silly alternative to prove due diligence seems inefficient and will no doubt add to the consultation costs and hence fuel the fire of those opposed, and delay further this important piece of infrastructure. Did they every propose a lift system for a motorway off ramp?

  5. “Comparable bridge paths around the world often have this sort of entry and exit, but it is almost always in addition to a ramp.”

    They’ve answered their own question… Build the ramps, it’s about flow and continuity of journey. And if they’re feeling generous build the lifts too, for those with limited mobility or don’t want to use the ramp. Stairs is just dumb for anyone not in foot.

    1. How many people with “limited mobility” will be venturing over the AHB do you suppose?
      As per usual this proposal is steeped in fantasies of people who should be nowhere near the public purse strings.

  6. Team you know exactly what would happen if they didn’t consult on this given the amount of litigation and highly organised opposition there has been over the years.

    NZTA know it’s better to bring the people with you.

    1. Who is going to litigate, the stair dwellers society? The troll who would like to move in under this possible staircase? The Stair Case builders Federation? Really?

      What it does do however quite nicely and by absolute pure coincidence however is put off doing anything until after the 2020 election. Actually just like Light Rail. By all this stalling some in the NZTA are probably hoping National is elected and they can go back to the real things they are meant for, maintaining motorways and giving lax oversight to safety checking motor vehicles!

      1. NZTA should be able to do all sort of infrastructures that is roads, rails, cycleway and bridges regardless of which party are in power.

      2. They might be out of luck. I don’t see much chance of National being back in government in 2020 and even if they were I think Skypath is sufficiently popular it is unlikely they will drop it.

        1. Failure to deliver anything resembling a crossing or even part of one by election time will be Phil Twyfords 3rd strike in non-delivery of a major promise. I think it a fair chance that this governments credibility will be suffering as a result quite rightly so by then and that does not help their reelection chances.

        2. I’m sure the current government will be back, National is floundering for things to campaign on. I think the general public have seen that just a pro-roads stance has not worked. Many have seen the western & southern motorways over the years being endlessly widened & have to endure the roadworks to achieve that.

        3. What’s the alternative? Grand plans for supposedly crucial infrastructure (at least when you’re campaigning) that you either can’t or won’t prioritise when you actually get in? I mean…. is that really better?

        4. Waspman – for people to switch allegiances they would have to believe there is a better chance of these projects being delivered by National, which is unlikely.

          They broke some transport promises themselves and their current leader was a Transport Minister at some point.

          In reality elections are not won and lost on transport anyway, it’s all about the economy, taxes and the big three services.

        5. Jezza, Not necessarily switch allegiances, rather not bother voting at all.

          And it won’t be this or Light Rail on their own, but the compounding effect of those and Kiwibuild and who knows what else that is or can be misrepresented by National as a failure to deliver that is the greatest risk.

          As said its their credibility that is at issue here. By leaving important policy implementation like this to not so like minded bureaucrats is naive to say the least.

        6. We can grumble about all the parties but NZ will be in a dire state – politically, socially and environmentally – if we don’t solve this. There’s got to be a way to inspire our parties to do better. The country needs parties that get tough with regressive bureaucrats, that play fair, and that are looking to provide the best future for our kids.

        7. Wasp I don’t think a shared path is ever going to be an election issue. Tax, hospitals, crime, unemployment but very few people care if you can walk or cycle across the bridge. It is more likely to be an albatross around the government’s neck as the opposition will be able to point to it as an example of vast sums spent for little return.

        8. NZTA are just dragging things out until National comes back.

          National won the largest share of the vote and Labour won because Jacinda offered hope. Those hopes are dashed now that they are breaking promises through their incompetence. A few more screw ups which seem likely and next election could go either way.

          FYI I’ve never voted for either major party. They are both useless and both equally responsible for the mess that NZ is in.

      3. You are clearly unaware of the level of opposition from both sides of the harbour, and the level of resource and political leverage that they used about the consenting issues for the last three years.

        One day you will be an affected local of a major project and understand.

      4. “Who is going to litigate, the stair dwellers society? The troll who would like to move in under this possible staircase? The Stair Case builders Federation? Really?”

        Ya, that got me laughing today, well yesterday just.

  7. Lifts and stairs work for walking only. They would be a terrible outcome for cycling. Speaking of, why doesn’t the Southern ramp also cross Westhaven Drive to connect directly into the shared path around the waterfront?

    1. I’m figuring that the bridge would have to be fairly high to clear large vehicles on Westhaven Drive and then it would need a fair bit of ramp to come down from that height. So that’s a lot of those existing carparks taken out – never popular – to say nothing of the cost for the extra structure.

  8. As things stand any northern landing will probably need a new resource consent because after deliberations the Environment Court Judge approval stipulated hours of operation and limited access numbers. The new (improved) pathway design as far as I know does neither.. just saying.

  9. Definitely a ramp over a stair/lift combination but the hairpin arrangement of the ramp forces anyone travelling to/from the city to perform a 150 m diversion. Not a major on a bike perhaps but frustratingly circuitous on foot. Hopefully they’re able to incorporate an overbridge to shortcut this.

  10. What design speed are they using for cyclists?
    A 180 degree tight radius bend at the bottom of a downhill section is madness.
    And is the series of 90 degree bends on the north side really necessary?
    Put random pedestrians into the mix at each corner and its just looking for accidents.
    Its like they put the stairs option up just to distract from how bad the ramp designs are.

    1. It’s a fairly constrained environment to do much more than manage speeds somehow and provide wider corner sections; on the north side the path could turn a bit less than 90deg but not much, due to the many bridge columns it has to weave through

    2. It is one of those situations where you have to count on people not being stupid.

      When I was studying, I had an underpass on the way to the city centre. I suspect, from the hard 90° corners, it was designed for pedestrians. And yet I never had the impression it was particularly dangerous. You just can’t go fast. Ride to the conditions.

  11. Some big calls in there PM. I’m interested to know how it affects you.

    Do you realise the sky path could be done virtually for free?

    All drivers would need to do is give up a lane over the bridge which could then be turned over to walking and cycling.

    Does the price tag now seem that exp?

  12. Keep the inside of the corner flat, with superelevation gradually increasing the further outwards until it resembles a BMX track or velodrome banked corner. If nothing else it would be great fun to see who can get highest on the banking

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