We may all be in lockdown but while there may be no physical works going on, projects in earlier stages of the design process are still able to be be progressed.
This follows an earlier consultation in August last year on accessing the path over the bridge, the announcement in January that the project would be funded from the government’s NZ Upgrade Programme, and an announcement in February that the agency had already shortlisted two companies to design and build it.
Design work on the Northern Pathway has reached an exciting new stage, with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency calling for feedback on the plans for the path which will connect people by foot and on bikes between Westhaven and the North Shore.
The Government is investing $360 million in the first section of the Northern Pathway between Westhaven and Akoranga as part of the $6.8 billion NZ Upgrade Programme. The walking and cycling link over the Auckland Harbour Bridge will be built as a continuous path at the same level as vehicles and will eventually connect all the way out to Albany, opening up the whole of the North Shore for people using active modes of transport.
Transport Agency Senior Manager Project Delivery Andrew Thackwray says the route of the pathway is now set and the preferred designs for the connections at Westhaven, Princes Street, Sulphur Beach Road, Stafford Road and Onewa Road have been updated. The pathway now follows an existing coastal route from the Harbour Bridge, with a walking and cycling bridge crossing the motorway to Stafford Road Reserve in Northcote.
“This further stage of asking for feedback builds on the years of public discussion about this pathway that has fed into the designs so far and our engagement last year. This is an exciting part of the design process, because we’ve taken all the feedback we’ve had to date and looked at some different options along the route. Now we have a preferred design for the key pathway connections, and we want to share it with the local community and everyone who will use it.”
“We are confident that our proposed design will create a pathway that will serve generations of Aucklanders and visitors for years to come. However, we still want to hear about any local issues, challenges and opportunities that we should consider.”
Usually the Transport Agency invites people to face-to-face discussions during the engagement phase, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic we won’t hold public meetings for health and safety reasons. However, we will continue to progress this project as infrastructure will play a critical role in the economic recovery of New Zealand.
We encourage people to review the information online or read our update brochure and provide feedback in the way that suits them best. The project team will be available to discuss queries through the Transport Agency’s project webpage or email.
“Your views are very important to the project. We encourage you to look at the designs and have your say. We value your contribution and will carefully consider the feedback you provide,” says Mr Thackwray.
Public engagement will run from 30 March until 12 April.
The key changes are summarised in this graphic which is part of the an engagement brochure.
The biggest of these changes relates to where the path will cross the motorway. In the previous plans, the path would head down to Sulphur Beach and users would then use Sulphur Beach Rd, which would still be shared with cars accessing the area. It would have also required crossing Stafford Rd. Now the plan is to carry on alongside the motorway for long and then pass over the motorway on a bridge.
In addition to this there are also changes in how users would access Princes St as well as Onewa Rd. For I think the first time they’re also showing that path just north of Onewa Rd will be elevated for a portion.
More detail is able to be gleaned from the route map. Working South to North.
The Westhaven Connection looks to be unchanged from even the Skypath days with a ramp that doubles back on itself to get users back down to the level of Westhaven Dr.
The first noticeable change is with the Princes St access which now shows a path that also doubles back on itself and would appear to require the removal of the remaining houses on the Eastern side of the bridge. On this they say in the brochure image above:
While we are working to minimise and manage impacts, the change in design to provide a continuous path will impact some houses and at least one pōhutukawa tree to the east of the existing bridge structure. We are talking with affected landowners and we will work with mana whenua and the community to plant new pōhutukawa trees from the seeds of the affected tree.
Losing houses is never a good thing but at the same time, if it’s going to happen, that land would make a great addition to Stokes Point Reserve. You can also see the path continuing on down to Sulphur Beach and then alongside the foreshore
It’s the next step that gets interesting and concerning. The path rises up to cross over the motorway on what I’m sure will be a stunning bridge. It’s not entirely clear if it stays elevated or if drops back down again but it then has to cross over the motorway northbound off-ramp before dropping down to get under the southbound off-ramp. It then does the reverse for the two on-ramps. As well as being a bit of a rollercoaster, this feels like it would encourage some cyclists to get up as much speed as possible heading down one ramp to make it easier to get up the one on the other side. But of course in the middle of all of this they’re also putting the junction to access Onewa Rd.
I wonder if they couldn’t go around the Onewa Interchange first before bridging over the motorway
Moving along, they say
As you move along the route between Onewa Interchange and Esmonde Road, the pathway narrows to 2.5 metres for about 60 metres, as it passes between the cliff face, a listed Pōhutukawa tree, and the motorway.
Given how quiet the motorways are right now, perhaps we should just take a lane off it?
Finally, at the northern end they’re working out how the path will cross Esmonde Dr. They say they’ve considered above and below ground options but prefer an at grade option with what appears like it could require waiting at two sets of lights – which I certainly hope is not the case. I also think there should be a footpath added on the southern side of Akoranga Dr up to The Warehouse Way.
Consultation is open from now till 12 April – although given the time frames involved, it does feel a bit like a box-ticking exercise.