Yesterday the Herald’s Simon Wilson reported that Skypath was in trouble.

The plan to build a cycling and walking path over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, popularly known as Skypath, has run into “significant and complex engineering issues”. The Herald understands the current design will be scrapped.

Other options are being considered but these are likely to involve substantial delays.

The original plan for Skypath by the Skypath Trust was to attach a lightweight structure underneath the southbound clip-on. The then new Labour government decided to take over the project and in 2019, Waka Kotahi announced a significantly upgraded design. They said they would build a 5m wide path with three 100m long terraced galleries which would great places for people to pause and take in the views.

This upgraded design would be achieved by attaching the new structure directly to the piers.

Early last year as part of the NZ Upgrade Programme the government then announced $360 million in funding for he Northern Pathway (both Skypath and Seapath) which would get a an off-road path as far as Esmonde Rd. They said construction was due to start in early 2021.

Wilson’s article is paywalled so I won’t share too much of it but other news sites have also since reported that the issue is likely to be with the piers.

Waka Kotahi’s director of regional relationships, Steve Mutton, has advised the advocacy group Bike Auckland that the Northern Pathway plan has “technical problems with how the pathway is supported”.

But here’s where things get a bit messy as I think Simon has incorrectly conflated some other recent discussions about the bridge. In particular the comments at the end of last month by Waka Kotahi at parliament’s Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee that the bridge can no longer be strengthened.

The not being able to add more steel comment is related to the interior of the clip-ons, not the piers themselves. As such, the issue is likely related to how the Skypath would connect to those piers. If this is the case it leaves the question, what to do about Skypath?

Simon presents three possible options

  1. Take a lane from the bridge
  2. Build a new bridge next to the current one
  3. Scrap the project all together and wait for another harbour crossing.

To me, the third option simply isn’t a valid one. Skypath is one of the most popular projects in Auckland and when combined with the likes of Light Rail, the failure on this project could have significant political ramifications for the government.

Meanwhile the fastest, easiest and cheapest, Option 1, appears to have been ruled out by the minister.

That leaves Option 2

The second option is to build a new structure, perhaps hard up against the existing bridge. This would require a completely new design, a new consenting process and a lot of money. A new bridge, even restricted to cycling and walking, would be expensive.

Wood said that wasn’t necessarily an issue. “Major assets will always require an investment and this Government is committed to a quality outcome for cycling and walking over the Waitematā harbour.”

This appeared to be the option Wood favours.

Building a whole new bridge on new foundations is a likely to be a huge undertaking and would take years even just to get the consents. This would represent substantial delays to a project we needed decades ago. It would also open the door even wider to scrapping it outright – the National Party yesterday said it should be scrapped with the money put towards another road crossing – not that it would make much dent in the $10+ billion that is now expected to cost.

The work to date on an additional harbour crossing has confirmed the next priority, after enhancements to the busway is to build a rapid transit crossing. But if we’re going down the route of a new structure, perhaps we should also consider combining that with the rapid transit crossing we know we’ll need. This could be similar to the Tilikum Crossing in Portland which has space for light rail, buses as well as pedestrians and cyclists. A design like this would mean we could provide benefit to existing bus services until such time as we’re ready to extend light rail to the Shore. This obviously wouldn’t be cheap but would be far cheaper than road (or rail) tunnels.

Portland, Oregon: Tilikum Crossing bridge on Sep. 19, 2015, with Skoda streetcar 005 eastbound. Photo by Steve Morgan.

While we wait for this to happen, and as an additional incentive to get this build as soon as possible, we could also combine it with the Option 1 idea of taking a lane from the current bridge. Perhaps taking space off motorways until the Waka Kotahi engineers start delivering might finally focus their minds on delivery of this critical piece of infrastructure.

Update

Some tweets from Transport Minister Michael Wood this morning

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107 comments

  1. Option 4. Narrow the clip on lanes to the same 3.0m width as the centre lanes, and have two narrow cycle lanes and barriers, one on each side for each direction.

      1. Horrible? It would still be better than 99.99% of the roads in Auckland.

        I’ll take an actual substandard crossing over a perfect one that never exists, thanks.

        1. One of the occasional downsides of, for many years having advocated for a stop to sub-standard solutions is that they will often not be approved anymore, especially in an extremely high profile locations like this. It may be feasible to do walk/cycle on the bridge clip-ons, but only if it is fully separated with a barrier, and have certain minimum widths (I’d say 3-4m, depending on whether it’s a shared path or separated walk & cycle paths). And you can’t do that width w/o taking at least a lane. Narrowing alone – I just don’t consider that feasible.

        2. In my opinion it seems as if one suitable option would be, for cyclists and walkers in both directions, to take the two lanes from Stafford Street over the clip-on on the northern-ish side of the bridge and come out at Curran Street. Another alternative for cyclists and walkers going both ways is to take the clip-on on the southern-ish side from Shelly Beach Road, and then pop out at Sulphur Beach and head under the motorway. Job done for two way active transport- Roberta’s your aunty.
          I believe that it can be shown that either one of these options meets a whole bunch of objectives that would enhance SH1 and provide satisfactory active transport options particularly considering that, for example, bridge road traffic doesn’t appear to have changed much over a long period.
          I’d provide some diagrams to show how these options could save space and not weigh much but it looks as though commenting won’t allow this. I’d strongly suggest talking to a competent architect who’d be able to provide some even better space-saving options.
          I cannot understand why Michael Wood and Patrick Reynolds haven’t got Waka Kotahi on the case and directed Waka Kotahi to get one of these two options underway immediately – the appearance is that the pair of them are indulging in pointless activity rather than doing something useful for active transport. I hope they’ll reconsider their positions.

        3. Sure Max, but if you demand a minimum of 3 to 4m for a one way lane then you’ll get what you have now: unbuilt plans and no crossing.

          The bidirectional cycle lane on the Sydney Harbour bridge is only 2.5m wide and accessed by a set of stairs (FFS).

          However, it exists and is used by thousands of people per day.

        4. Take both lanes on both directions for a PT only lane each way 24/7 and a bidirectional cycleway on one side (probably just wide enough) with a shared or walking/running/kiddie biking lane on the other.
          Toll the remaining 4 lanes for everything else or at least heavy traffic at peak times.

        5. “Sure Max, but if you demand a minimum of 3 to 4m for a one way lane then you’ll get what you have now: unbuilt plans and no crossing.”

          I’m not demanding. I’m telling you what the response from authorities was / is. The result (unbuilt plans) sadly seems to be the same outcome either way.

          “The bidirectional cycle lane on the Sydney Harbour bridge is only 2.5m wide and accessed by a set of stairs (FFS).”

          The Sydney Harbour Bridge is not nearly as steep on the approaches. And possession is 9/10ths of the law. The Sydney Harbour Bridge design would not be approved again today either.

          That’s the paradox of greater expectations and better standards. Ocassionally it just results in the bad status quo hanging around for even longer.

        6. Sorry Max when I said you I meant the figurative “you”, not you specifically. My comment stands for the powers that be, if they demand 4m then we’ll never get anywhere in my lifetime because apparently that requires a new harbour bridge.

          This seems the same problem with WK all over. They took an feasible, affordable and fit for purpose LRT scheme and made it an unbuildable and unfundable metro line. They’ve been toiling with a motorway tunnel of the harbour for decades that they can’t help but supersize to meet their full demands to a full standard, and have got precisely nothing to show for it. The original harbour bridge was substandard, but they still built it and its still very well used half a century later.

          I’m still for the substandard but existing and functional, over the standard that doesn’t exist and can’t be used.

    1. Yes agree. Invest in the areas that want it. Be careful not to generalise from the particular though, there are plenty of areas in the Shore and the Eastern Suburbs that are super keen to see improved cycling infrastructure. Well, even any cycling infrastructure at all. Each year the contrast between our cycling deserts and Christchurch just gets more and more stark.

        1. “Christchurch looks like a better and better option to live in every day.”
          – Except for horrible car-dependency and primitive public transport with a very low mode-share. The largest city in Australasia without an urban rail system. No thanks.

    2. Having a bi-directional on one side would be better wouldn’t it? That way you’d only have one barrier to worry about (in terms of space saving) and a bi-directional could provide space for passing as it could likely be a ‘peak flow’ cycle route?

      1. Unless we ban pedestrians (hard to enforce), it would also be a major tourist destination. So the peak flow nature, despite it quite possibly existing for bikes, would be largely irrelevant with pedestrians in the mix.

        1. Pedestrians can’t be banned outright. When a cyclist steps off to push their cycle for whatever reason they become a pedestrian.

        2. Which is kind of my point. “I’ll just take a photo of you, Mary, I’ll lean the bike against the railing, you stand there…” [steps backwards into the path of an oncoming 40 kph cyclist…]

          This is one of my greater concerns with the narrower path options. This scenario gets worse the narrower the path, and the fewer (or no) observation platforms where people can stop and loiter safely.

        3. So does taking one lane and narrowing the other lane on the clipon provide enough width for a bidirectional path, Max?

          Or do two lanes need to be taken, and then would you use one clipon completely or take one lane from each side of the bridge (the first seems cleaner to me.)

    1. $240m. The rest is for Seapath. Reallocating lanes would be far cheaper, so let’s do it.

      We should not accept the crumbs that are given for cycling and argue about which projects they are better spent on. The 20% of the transport that the UN recommend for walking and cycling is a minimum – we’ve not got a cycling network but we do have a safety crisis and a climate emergency, so we should be spending much more.

      1. I am with Heidi. No more delays. Take the lane until a more permanent solution is found. Climate change is the ultimate reason for not waiting. But also a factor is the public were promised this infrastructure. They voted on it and they have a right to see it delivered.

        1. Unless they also take another 2 lanes for buses it would make PT trips a lot worse though. Could always get off the bus at Akoranga and cycle over I guess!

        2. I can’t see any reason why one bridge lane cannot be devoted to active modes on a weekend. If one of the world’s biggest cities, Sao Paulo, can devote a portion of their busiest street, Paulista Avenue, to bikes on a Sunday, then WK can surely mange this with the harbour bridge.

          Or they could look at another of the world’s biggest cities, Rio de Janeiro, and see how Avenida Atlantica is transformed on Sundays.

          How can the city be possibly disadvantaged by reducing the predominantly discretionary vehicle leisure trips that occur on the bridge on a weekend?

          If the transport authorities are going to reduce emissions doesn’t it make sense to start with discretionary trips?

          Of course the answer is not that WK can’t, they won’t.

        3. Which is better? Labour promising and failing to deliver (yet), or National promising that they won’t do it at all?

    2. Like a non-upgrade of Lake Road for $50 million? Or a new expensive carpark in Takapuna just so the locals would “allow” them to build a nice new town centre? Or the much appreciated cycle paths in Northcote Point? Or a new town centre for St Helier’s (sorry I meant safety improvements). Yes so many better projects!
      I agree they should give up on the moaners in the Shore and Eastern Bays and come invest it in areas that haven’t had a cent in years and would actually appreciate it!

      1. You do realise that this isn’t currently in doubt (again) because of objections. And in fact EVEN IN NORTHCOTE POINT there was a majority of support for SkyPath.

        The Shore isn’t moaning about investment in cycling and SkyPath. Some loud individuals are. Don’t give in to their game by saying “Oh, they don’t want it”.

        1. This. Also the Eastern Suburbs. Way too much generalization on this blog sometimes.

  2. Auckland, particularly the CBD, needs congestion charging (aka road pricing). A cordon-based system operating during peak periods would effectively act like a toll on the Harbour Bridge. So with a congestion charging system demand for space on the bridge would be reduced. Quite probably the reduction in traffic demand* would be enough that an entire lane could be repurposed for cycling and walking without any change in travel times for general traffic.

    ( * Based on the simplistic “traffic flows like water” theory that NZTA/AT subscribe to, ignoring traffic evaporation. It’s also notable that at the moment the bridge itself is not a bottleneck in the motorway system, it’s the approaches, which implies there is already spare capacity.)

    1. Yes, agree. Using this debunked science must stop. Do NZTA and AT need to be legally challenged on it?

      If they want to ensure people flow increases they can also reallocate lanes to bus lanes.

    2. They are plaining on doing congestion charging in 10 years time. (note: that does not mean 2031, that means in 10 years from whatever the current date is. Because you know it is really complicated to set up some cameras in the city and charge people, even though we seem to be able to do it on toll roads just fine. We need more studies etc.).

  3. Currently cyclists have to interface with the ferry or travel via Greenhithe both of which are a massive turnoff.

    Just take a lane for cycling already. Will reduce congestion in both directions with just one lane.

  4. I though one of the problems with walking, and I assume also cycling, on the clipons is that they “breath”, in other words they resonate in frequency to the walking motion.
    Those who have walked over them have complained about the way that they felt as the clipons moved up and down to the extent that some would become concerned that the bridge was about the collapse under them.

      1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQEAj29IkNU

        Millennium bridge in London designers applied this thought process and it didn’t go so hot. While all the loads were well within design tolerances its still bad to have a bridge that behaves like this.

        Their issue was in the horizontal direction though. And it turns out people do tend to synchronize. If there is any harmonic in the vertical direction around the frequency of people walking it could be a big issue.

        1. At this point I’d be happy with a swing bridge… As opposed to another 5 years planning to result in zilch. LRT is the same 5 years talking with no result.. Just put in BRT while the boffins spend another 5 years discussing LRT vs BRT etc.

    1. All bridges do that. Motorway overpasses are stiffened to reduce the feeling. The Symonds St motorway bridge wasn’t so if you are in a car stopped in a queue and someone walks on the footpath you feel the bounce. It isn’t actually moving much but with the right suspension in feels huge. Bridges that are not designed for pedestrians have the extra bounce or spring in them but that doesn’t mean they can’t support the load.

    2. Having been IN the clip-ons as part of my work on the original SkyPath consent, and walked the maintenance walkways, I can confirm that it *vibrates* (sometimes heavily, yes). It doesn’t *sway*, and the Millenium Bridge example seems particularly irrelevant, as that was, as far as I can tell, a case of people falling in step and making the swaying worse and worse. The AHB vibration is much different, caused by vehicles not humans on the proposed path, and those humans would have a much smaller relative weight than on the Millenium bridge.

      In short, I’m not a structures engineer but seriously doubt THAT is an issue.

  5. Regardless of what happens with the bridge in the meantime, I think that building as much of the northern pathway as possible as soon as possible is very important. Firstly it’s much cheaper than the bridge part. Having something obvious to connect to on both ends makes the bridge itself make more sense. Plus building the cycle backbone in the meantime for the north shore is great too. With an upgrade to lake road we could see a lot more off peak cycle growth to /from the city. And perhaps with a different ferry design or an optimisation of the layout we could have much more peak cycle capacity on the ferries too.

    1. I doubt SeaPath will be built unless SkyPath is a go. If the sad conclusion is that it is a long time away, maybe there’s a case for instead extending the Northern Pathway between Constellation and Albany southwards as first stage, as that would extend a piece of pathway that’s nearly open (well, a year or so away?) .

  6. Where should we go from here? Build a tunnel for light rail/light metro/whatever to the Shore and then reallocate one of the lanes on the harbour bridge for cyclists and walkers.

    Better still, reallocate one lane in each direction to transit, and one lane to cyclists and walkers right now in the name of the climate emergency and pretty much force car drivers to change their behaviour.

    Yes, I know how popular that would be and there’s a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek, but desperate situations call for desperate measures. Which we have not even had a hint of from Waka Kotahi, Auckland Transport (APPALLING responses to recent questions from GA writers about the emergency) or Auckland Council.

    1. “Better still, reallocate one lane in each direction to transit, and one lane to cyclists and walkers right now in the name of the climate emergency and pretty much force car drivers to change their behaviour.”

      Maybe a southbound bus lane & a walk/cycle path on the eastern clip on, and leave the remaining 6 lanes for cars and trucks. But I doubt we will do that – this Govt is not serious about climate change or active transport, sadly. They worry about car driving Aucklanders more than about what they promised they’d do.

      1. My pick for this is to allocate a central lane beside the barrier for cycling/pedestrian use and next to it,maybe, a bus lane divided off from the remaining traffic lane by cones(to allow for breakdowns). Access from Onewa overbridge and Fanshawe St. There would likely need to be a second movable barrier to seperate vehicular traffic from the cycle/ped lane.
        Alternately start a transfer bus for cyclists to get over the bridge with maybe a one zone Hop payment.

      2. Maybe it’s the time I catch the bus, but the delays on the bridge for me are always afternoon peak northbound. Morning citybound on the bus isn’t caught in any traffic.

        1. Agree, it’s such a shame there isn’t a continuous bus lane from lower Albert to Akoranga with bus priority at lights. Just close Curran st and they could do it.

  7. Option 2. Use many piers and smaller spans and build it low enough for people to fish from. A low flat bridge would be better for walking and cycling and better for light rail. There is no longer any need to get ships under. The old one was built high so they could build a port at Pollen Island that was long since cancelled. Build it so launches can get under and yachts can relocate. Chelsea sugar works is going to go and we hardly need the navy storing explosives up the harbour so build a low bridge.

    1. Actually a perfectly good idea and valid response from Miffy. No tongue in cheek at all, as far as I can see. Its actually:…….. sensible.

      I’m shocked. Mifwic sensible at last. Good Lord.

      And besides – it would make a nice matching pier/pair with old Mangere Bridge, where the fishing bridge is.

    2. Shame about the shipping channel to Chelsea / Gulf Harbour for yachts etc. That is why the current central span is built the height it is…

      1. No the central span was built as high as it was so a new port at Pollen Island could be built. But ship sizes increased and you could never build the Pollen Island wharf now. Chelsea won’t be generating wasps in Birkenhead for ever. Gulf Harbour is on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

    3. It must be great to be able to throw 200 odd people on the scrapheap, and never mind the scrapping of physical assets if the Chelsea Sugar Refinery was forced to shut so that a handful of cyclists and pedestrians can have their free trip over your bridge. And that’s not considering the needs of the defence requirements of the country should the Kauri Point Ammunition Depot (btw, its not just Navy munitions that are stored there) be also forced to close.
      The narrow minded selfishness of some people never ceases to amaze me.
      My recollection of when this cycle/walkway over the bridge was first proposed it was going to be tolled and self funded. Why not return to that concept rather than destroying 2 major assets up harbour.

  8. There is huge cost of building stand alone houses in distant suburbs. The huge costs of earthworks, roads, paths, services, 3 waters, new schools and services costs. The pressure on the Harbour bridge and congestion.
    Building apartments in the CBD and near to stations is an obvious solution that still too many people don’t understand.
    Waka Kotahi supports a rail tunnel

    1. Doesn’t really matter what Waka Kotahi supports, they should be building whatever the current Government tells them. Nobody votes for Waka Kotahi.

      Sensing a trend now though..other agency makes a plan, Government takes it off them, changes it then it goes into too hard basket.

      Grab a lane, start road pricing, see how it goes. Labour have a mandate and a landslide election behind them…start doing something.

  9. A variation of John D’s Option 4:

    Narrow the clipon lanes to 3.2 metres which leaves enough room for a 0.3 metre barrier and a 2.4 metre footpath on the east clipon. The footpaths on the north and south sides, including the Sulphur Beach Motorway Underpass, built to access the toll booths, are all already in place.

    A 2.4 metre wide cycle path on the west clipon would only need a short access path at the back of the Bridge Climb building and on the north end a short path across the grass at Tennyson St.

    The shared path over the motorway near the Newton School is 2.4 metres wide which seems plenty wide enough for a two way cycle path. The bridge has a 5% grade as does the 3 metre wide two way cycle path on Nelson Street between Union St and Cook St. Just rolling down Nelson St gets the speedo up to 40 kmph after 200 metres, so the 800 metre clipon descent would be a racetrack! A speed limit of 20 kmph and regular chicanes with uphill cyclists having right of way should keep everyone safe.

    A presentation on the option to Auckland Council Planning Committee on 3 December 2020 is from the 2 minute mark.

    https://councillive.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/video/3122020-planning-committee-item-05

    1. “and regular chicanes with uphill cyclists having right of way should keep everyone safe.”

      I have looked at that extensively as the traffic engineer during the original SkyPath consent. The bridge is (for a cycle path) quite steep and long, plus there’s ebikes. You are either creating dozens of problematic bottlenecks, or a smaller number of extremely dangerous sudden barriers that people on bikes can crash into. It also creates serious emergency evacuation issues. We discarded the barriers / chicanes option, as it would never pass a safety audit.

      1. That’s very interesting. I ride the upper Harbour bridge and often think it is an accident waiting to happen when I witness the speed difference of riders going uphill and those speeding down.
        If barriers and chicanes were decided to be unsafe, what was the conclusion to avoid these collisions between riders in each direction and also the foot traffic?
        Was it just going to be left unaddressed?
        Thanks

        1. The intention was a mixture of “lighter” infra measures, and operational controls. There were going to be GATED approaches after all – and security guards. We were looking into active speed monitoring, and immediate detection/feedback. So people who had a habit of speeding would be warned and/or banned from the bridge. Also, the path would have been wider (4m not 2.4m), which gives more ability to avoid each other. The consent documentation was clear that it was one of the more problematic issues remaining and would need active management – but whatever one feels about it, chicanes weren’t the answer…

  10. Is it just me or does it seem that road projects always seem to go ahead without any real issues but anything to do with cycling seems to get delayed or cancelled or done wrong. I would have thought the engineering to build something for 40 tonne trucks traveling at 100km/hr would be more difficult than that for 80 kg people travelling at 30km/hr?

    1. Its because like usual, cycling isn’t seen as a serious, heavy lift, transport solution for the city. Its a nice to have for twitter users and weekend warriors. The reality is that that sky path with its 5 meter width would have a top end capacity similar to the general traffic lanes alongside (not including the busses). It is unlikely that this max capacity will be met for decades, if ever. But that’s the point.

  11. Other than the end of life of the existing bridge, one of the main drivers of a tunnel was for rail/light rail. Just build another bridge more suited to it and forget the tunnel. It will be much cheaper and faster to build. People are just sick and tired or empty promises. Waka Kohai and those that be in Government should just get it done or quit their job and go find something you are actually good at. Between this and light rail they are dismal failures.

    1. I actually think the most practical and cost effective solution (as much as I don’t necessarily like it) is a new parallel bridge for cars, probably 10 wider lanes, and the existing bridge for PT / walking / cycling. That should be the end of the problem forever as the existing bridge can have PT up the middle where it is strong enough and walking etc on the supposedly weaker clip-ons.
      Otherwise eventually a government (National) will decide that 4 lanes aren’t enough and the bridge is end of life etc and we will end up with a third crossing.

    2. A new bridge seems the answer because with an abundance of caution which government would ever allow the existing one to ever get to such a state that traffic volumes would need to be curtailed. I have thought the new bridge should be for cars and trucks with the existing bridge with or without its clipon’s would be for buses, walkers or cyclists. There is a letter in the Herald this morning from Phil O’Reilly suggesting that shifting Auckland Port would remove large volumes of trucks from the bridge. So there is a couple of projects which will only cost about $10 or $20 billion. But I wonder if we could just ask the trucking companies very nicely to go around the other way.

      1. Let’s see the evidence first that there is huge volumes of trucks on the Harbour Bridge before we talk about removing them.

        From my perception of living on the Shore, it seems to me like Uncle Phil is talking up a perceived issue to create a rationale for another one.

        Perhaps as a “westie” he should be looking at solutions for the North Western motorway?

  12. Build NW busway as a priority then ban heavy transport from Harbour Bridge and dedicate lanes on it to PT and cycling / pedestrians.

    Do try and remember than not every car on the bridge is going to the CBD and that for a lot of them alternative modes are not realistic

    There is a lot of misinformation around bridge volumes – e.g. no more cars travel across the bridge between 7 and 9 than in 1980. Probably true but that’s because it’s hit capacity and so the 1980 2 hour peak is now a four hour one. Don’t try and pretend that removing a lane(s) for general traffic and repurposing them won’t have very real unpleasant effects on a large number of people so give them a workable alternative

  13. Get LGWM in as consultants, they have expertise in stalling transport projects until a motorway can be built instead. The W can stand for waitemata. Let’s grow waitematas motorway.

  14. I’m not from Auckland, but let me see if I got this right. If you want to get to the Northshore, there are two ways:

    You use a car – great, you can travel for free!
    You don’t use a car – sorry, gotta pay for ferry/bus.

    In my mind ferry should be free, high quality and high frequency until there is an alternative. It’s a public good.

  15. I think it’s time for a new crossing.
    I thought a lower bridge around 25 to 35 meters clearance, enough for most boats to clear and have a liftable or turning section of deck for larger ships to pass.
    The bridge only needs 4 lanes 2 for bus or rail and 1 for bikes 1 for pedestrians.
    Why not kill 2 birds with 1 stone, and keep it cheap

    1. Something a little off topic.

      “Auckland’s mayor has written to Ports of Auckland to formally express his concerns about its performance.

      The Ports’ latest quarterly report for October-December 2020 reveals there have been four stop-work injuries – and that’s in addition to three deaths linked to the ports in recent years.]”

      Hell, Shane Ellison’s in tray must be over flowing given the appalling number of accidents on Auckland roads.

    2. “Why not kill 2 birds with 1 stone, and keep it cheap”

      Because your option is neither cheap – still will cost a couple of billion – nor doable in less than 5-10 years.

      The new option that the minister is teasing us with is likely to cost anything from 500-1000 million anyway, take half a decade as well, and will never be built. Sadly that’s my take on the whole. Its either take a lane from the clip-ons or wait forever for the next mega-project in a decade or two.

  16. Or we could do it the other way around. Rail or bus and cycleway and walkway on the new bridge. Could be much narrower than another 8 lanes of cars.
    Seems much more logical.

  17. What is the relative cost of a new bridge of the same profile, and in very close proximity to the existing bridge on new bored pylons aligned to the existing pylons? Make it wide enough, and strong enough for two lanes of busway/future light rail and pedestrian and cycleways.
    Visually it would be relatively unobtrusive.

  18. Portland option seems best. Extend light rail to the north and make it also good for cycling and walking. That would be perfect solution. Unfortunately knowing our decision makers sad reality is there probably will be no new crossing at all and no light rail in Auckland…

  19. I do see many like the option of using a lane from the bridge for a cycle path as much as it makes sense it would still cause more traffic nightmares for those driving,
    Yes I would say “to bad who cares about those driving they can get on a bus or bike if they don’t want to sit in misery”
    But I work all over Auckland and need to carry tools so I have no choice.
    And 2 billion dollars for a new crossing that could potentially Carry more people then our existing bridge is cheap.
    Once we have another government swap they will go straight for 6 lane road only tunnel costing 6 billion plus.
    Then we will never see a rail or bike crossing not even in our children’s lifetime.

    1. The bridge should cater for all users and if car/ute drivers feel they might suffer a little then that’s probably what privilege looks like.

      A lane for buses that can run counter in peak, another for bikes and walking. Car users will adjust. They have to. The time has come to take one for the team too. But watch just how many switch to the alternative modes now on offer or even adjust their commute time (or ditch optional trips). And that’s great for the commercial users.

      Do that for a year and see what happens. The next decision on a crossing should be an informed one and right now it can’t be because we largely only provide for one mode adequately.

    2. “And 2 billion dollars for a new crossing that could potentially Carry more people then our existing bridge is cheap.”

      Its also probably 10yrs away (design, consent, inevitable challenges through the environment court, build). And it will certainly be advantagous for car drivers, with buses moving to that new bridge.

      In return, lanes on the current bridge must to be given over to PT and buses in the interim. Fair is fair.

      1. Problem is the harbour bridge wasn’t designed for everyone to use,
        It’s to steep for rail and i don’t want to imagine the energy required to keep a train moving over that bridge, maybe re generated power from the incline could be stored in a battery.
        And unless you’re fit you definitely need an E bike to make the trip over the bridge efficiently, otherwise many would just ride there bike at walking pace in its lowest gear, I would probably just get off and walk the bike up.
        So if any lane is converted to pedestrian it would only be temporarily until a more suitable bridge is built hopefully sooner rather than later as the current bridge has served injustice for generations now.

        1. On the “the bridge is too steep” matter – its less steep than Grafton Gully, and less vertical gain especially going south (Northcote Point entry is not at sea level). Yes, it’s steep – but not TOO steep to bike, and for the rest there’s walking or e-bikes, as mentioned.

        2. A low bridge would meet a fair bit of opposition because of it effectively banning an extensive, stunning and important waterway, to so many watercraft. The ships bringing raw sugar directly to the sugar refinery would have to be replaced by many more truck trips across the harbour. The NZ navy based out of Devonport would have to find a different, and at least equally safe way, of arming and disarming it’s ships into explosive storage facilities. And yes, a lower bridge would curtail a huge amount of recreational boating, actually a significant economic contributor, in one of the greatest worldwide recreational and sporting boating centres of the world.

        3. Sugar boats can unload by deep water conveyor, quiet a normal practice in other countries
          A useful height to align with Northcote end would be 30m, how many pleasure craft are that tall?

        4. Why talk of rail? The bridge has got the ability to have a RTN lane in both directions during peak: Buses.

          Rail (in whatever form) can be designed as part of the next crossing. But the idea that the solution to no dedicated PT or active access is “spend 2bn, build another bridge and leave us (cars) alone and untouched” is infantile.

          Everyone needs to grow up and that starts with car drivers (of which I am one). Any slight inconvenience proposed to help others who don’t have the same access (e.g. PT users, walkers, cyclists) is met with a selfish response, that the car’s current benefits must not be harmed. It’s pathetic.

          That’s what we are talking here: a relatively minor inconvenience at certain times of the day, for certain trips, so others who are currently locked out of its use (walkers, cyclists) can enjoy their city’s infrastructure too.

  20. Whether or not there is a Skypath in the long term, could we not look for alternative options in the short term? Why not some dedicated, cycle-carrying shuttle buses operating from suitable bases at each end of the bridge? A capital cost, yes! But compared with other options very cheap! To meet demand from cyclists in the UK, Scotrail has just fitted out some diesel rail cars to transport cyclists. These are to be attached to regular trains thus increasing the number of those who wish explore the more remote part of the country. Here we just need some encouragement for those who wish to cycle across the harbour!

    1. Yes. We could have this up and running by Monday, or Tuesday at the latest. Northern stop outside the police depot. Southern stop at Erin Point. Two busses running continuously.
      If by next Friday we can’t get a couple of electric busses with fold down seats, and a low floor to make it easy to get on and off, I’m sure next week would be possible. Perhaps, some corporate would like to put on a driverless bus and demonstrate the benefits of a 5G network?

  21. ” Skypath is one of the most popular projects in Auckland”

    As Wikipedia is wont to say “citation required”

        1. From memory it was some 97% support in one of the biggest (10k plus submissions) resource consent submission processes ever in NZ. Google around for articles & blogs during the time of the hearing.

          97% support is like “motherhood and apple pie” support as the American say. Of course that might have degraded *a bit* (but not massively) since, but everything gets tarnished when it constantly gets talked down and hoped for, but doesn’t happen.

        2. Submissions a) are not a random sample and b) biased by the question. If you asked people to submit on whether a new (road) harbour crossing would be a good idea and you did not have to consider the cost, who do you think would submit, and how popular do you think it would be?

        3. “Submissions a) are not a random sample and b) biased by the question.”

          That might be a true argument if there had been a “question”. In fact, people had the opportunity to provide feedback to a project that had extensively been discussed by the media, with many loud voices in clear opposition over many years.

          Despite that, many many thousands decided to support it – and only very, very few bothered to oppose it. You might as well say that a well-attended election doesn’t represent the people’s will because not everyone who supported the winning parties voted. Positive support for a project at submission stage – especially when it is so much easier to support the status quo – is a clear message.

          Also, there were various random sample surveys too, which also showed clear support. Do the research if you are questioning claims that were widely substantiated at the time, I’m not going to google things for you.

        4. “because not everyone who supported the winning parties voted.”

          That should have been “because not everyone who supported the losing parties voted” of course. Sorry.

        5. To be fair, we were lucky that the hearing allowed the Generation Zero submissions to be counted individually because often these electronic submissions can just be counted as one submission.
          I was living at Melbourne at the time and totally lied on my submission, saying I would be using Skypath every day, when pre Covid, I had no intention of coming back to live in Auckland. I also made sure all my friends made similar submissions and most of them were Aussies.
          I don’t feel guilty about it at all as it was a project that needed to be built and I didn’t want a few NIMBYs to stop it.
          I bet I’m not the only one that did that, so the 97% support is probably not really true.

  22. Think I’m just going to hang out for Michael Wood’s announcement from his Twitter comment: “This work is well underway and it won’t be too long until we are able to confirm the way forward for this important project.”
    I’m wondering if it is a new low bridge with light rail included, but probably more likely there was just a small engineering challenge to overcome, which they have pretty much found a solution for that was just a matter of doing some tweaking to that newer upgraded design.

    1. My worry is that they will propose something great. Meaning something costing a couple hundred million more, taking several years of extra planning and consent, which will then be scrapped when at the next election, Labour loses because they don’t deliver all their promises.

  23. l reckon WK have claimed their second politician
    WK-2.Politicians-0.To be fair,Twyford made it easy.WK now own Michael Wood ,intruiging politics

  24. Sell the current bridge road surface in 400m2 lots, at current Auckland prices you will have a few billions dollars to build a new gold plate bridge with separated bike and dog walkers paths!

  25. Seriously though, a long path as high as the bridge is not a comfortable walk or ride. A relatively flat path direct from Westhaven Drv to Princes St, Northcote on pillar attached to side of current pillars and on East side of bridge on southern end, and West side of bridge on northern end. About max 30 m high to match Northcote end. Small boats can get under. The large sugar boats can unload via deep water conveyers as done in many countries

  26. I suspect there are more problems with the bridge than the Government is letting on. A lot of core samples have been taken out of the pylons in recent months, many more than you would expect needed for Skypath.
    Perhaps we are soon going to hear that heavy transport will be encouraged to use upper Harbour and what needs to use the bridge, will be restricted to the center lanes. The remaining 8 lanes will be for light vehicles only.
    This will scupper any chance for one lane to be used for walking/cycling as no Government will appease the cyclists at the cost of losing the votes of all those drivers that would sit in even longer congestion twice a day.
    It’s sad and annoying, but I don’t think there will ever be a Skypath built now. I dont know what is worse, not being able to cycle the bridge or the thought of all those NIMBYs laughing

    1. What I don’t get is why they don’t propose replacing (one of) the clip-ons. Pre-fabricate them (with a new SkyPath attached), float them in, then replace them with a closure over a few (relatively short) months. That can be sold politically, as it would be a short sharp change, and also benefit drivers.

      Actually I hope that’s what they are proposing – but that of course will only work if the foundations aren’t also the problem.

      1. They would be better to replace the more worn clip on, the northbound one. Which unfortunately faces the wrong way for the views. The layman might laugh and winge they did the wrong one. And it would somewhat take away one of the original selling points, a great viewpoint / walk for tourists.
        Still totally worth it purely for the transport it would provide. And the view is still really good.

    1. Christopher, we don’t let the children vote at all. Yet they are the ones who want to cycle, and who would certainly vote for any transport infrastructure that would enable them to use active transport.

      Because they are most focused on climate change.

      It would be unethical not to invest in what they need.

  27. Sorry auckland, we dont deserve a footpath on our harbour crossing.
    Its taken this long to decide it cant be done, by those who are charged with doing it.
    Couple of options.
    1. Put your bike on your car and drive it across
    2. Move to portland.

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