On Saturday the government announced they have scrapped the walking and cycling bridge across the harbour, something that was first hinted at in August.

The Government has listened to feedback from New Zealanders and has decided not to proceed with the standalone bridge component of the Northern Pathway project and reallocate the funding to other transport projects that reduce emissions and congestion including the Eastern busway, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today.

“The Government has both listened and acted, meaning that the Northern Pathway standalone bridge will not be going ahead,” Michael Wood said

“The Government is committed to providing better access to walking and cycling and reducing greenhouse emissions through our transport investments, but this particular project won’t be part of that mix. It didn’t get the public support needed for a project of its scale and we acknowledge that.

“Work will continue on a public transport-led additional harbour crossing. We allocated $60 million in the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) earlier this year for planning work and property acquisition to occur.

This is incredibly disappointing and exactly what many advocates feared would happen when the latest proposal was announced in June, given the history of bigger and better crossings being announced only to be dropped later.

Perhaps more concerning than the actual decision is it highlights that the government don’t have courage of their convictions. They talk a big game about the need to give people better options and to address climate change but then get scared and backtrack at the first sign of opposition to that. Especially when most of that opposition seems to be in the form of clickbait focused unscientific polls and opinion pieces from media outlets.

It’s incredibly worrying given this month they’re due to release their Emissions Reduction Plan, which, if it’s to do anything serious about achieving the goals set out by the Climate Change Commission it will require them committing to significant change in how people travel. The Ministry of Transports paper on how we can achieve that suggests we will need a 40% reduction in light vehicle kilometres travelled by 2035 and a 55% reduction by 2050 – in other words we will need measures to get over half of our existing traffic off the road and it’s likely many of the interventions needed will be neither cheap nor popular.

Thinking a bit wider about why opposition to this project happened I think there are a couple of issues at play.

  • When the announcement was made in June it was a complete surprise to everyone, including cycling advocates. Typically in big projects like this there has been discussion with advocates and/or the public about the issues that have arisen or the ideas being explored which allows concerns to thrashed out. This didn’t happen with the latest proposal. The bike the bridge protest a week earlier was motivated by the fact Waka Kotahi had suddenly gone quiet and refused to engage with our friends at Bike Auckland.
  • I think there are wider issues with Waka Kotahi which I’ll discuss below.
  • I also think it highlights how there has been a complete lack of strategic communication about why projects like this are needed. A single press release announcing it and maybe a couple of media interviews just aren’t enough. There needs to be a systematic programme from government and council leaders to talk about issues like that we need to get people out of their cars. One area showing a bit of leadership in this space has been the comms from the Auckland Light Rail project.
    Also, while advocates can help in this, it’s completely unfair to blame (unpaid) advocates for not doing this job, as Councillor Chris Darby did

The Role of Waka Kotahi

In addition to the issues outlined above, I think a big part of the blame for the failure of this project sits squarely with Waka Kotahi. In fact, in many ways it feels like this was the exact outcome many in the organisation were hoping for. As we learnt from a ministerial briefing paper on the project that was released in July a better option from all of their assessments was to build a combined public transport and active mode bridge.

They said the bridge itself would cost just 10% more than the $685 million the active mode only bridge was expected to cost. It also would have required up to $1 billion more on the approaches for public transport but it’s likely much of that could have happened at a later date. Though given we also need to upgrade the busway and possibly convert it for light rail, that’s hardly a bad outcome.

Waka Kotahi’s excuse for not going for the combined bridge option was basically they were told to deliver a walking and cycling crossing and so anything that wasn’t exactly that was ignored. I suspect a more realistic reason for not including it was that it would have been too successful and put at jeopardy what they really want, a $15 billion road tunnel that they admit will make congestion worse.

Where to from here

I strongly believe the best long-term option remains a public transport and active mode bridge, preferably on more direct alignment such as to Wynyard. It would help provide viable alternatives to driving and be a much more publicly acceptable solution. Combined with other measures like road pricing it would also help in reducing vehicle travel while still giving the option for replacing the clip-ons or an additional road crossing if it can be justified.

A bridge is also preferable to a tunnel as it is cheaper to build, maintain and operate plus means both PT and active modes can be given an optimal design rather than having to be shoehorned into the existing bridge which was designed with only cars and trucks in mind. Had the government announced a bridge like this on the weekend it would also not have looked like they just folded to criticism so easily.

The Tilikum Crossing in Portland is just for light rail, buses and active modes

The downside of such a solution is the cost and that it will take longer to deliver. In June they said the active mode only bridge would be completed around 2027. We can likely expect a combined bridge to take a bit longer as it will need new design and consenting work. So what happens in the interim?

Of note the government have also ruled out permanently reallocating a lane, with Minister Wood saying:

“I know there will be calls from some to permanently allocate a lane on the existing bridge for walking and cycling but we will not be pursuing this option. Decisions about access to the state highway network formally sit with the Waka Kotahi Board and I have now formally written to them to express my support for a temporary trial that could occur over the quiet summer holiday months, subject to safety considerations being met.

Reallocating a clip-on on the weekends, with the bridge in a three-by-three lane configuration would at least be a way to start building support for more options. But I would have thought by now the government would have learnt that asking nicely means the highway engineers in charge at Waka Kotahi will just ignore them.

What about the money?

If there’s one positive from the decision is that some other good projects are now getting funded with the money.

Firstly, Seapath which runs from the bridge to Akoranga will continue, though they say with some re-design at harbour bridge end

The money will also be used to bring forward the rest of the Eastern Busway with the government increasing their share of the project – something the acknowledged in ATAP they would need to do. Though it’s not really bringing it forward as the project was only just pushed back by Auckland Transport recently due to a lack of funding. Overall, it’s critical the Eastern Busway is delivered as soon as possible so this is a positive.

Another good addition was the inclusion of a new cycleway to bridge the 1.9km gap between the new Glen Innes to Tamaki path and path being built alongside the Eastern Busway.

“Another project we want to bring forward to give East Aucklanders more choices is a 1.9km link between Glen Innes and Panmure to connect the new Eastern Busway cycleway with the Glen Innes to Tamaki cycleway. Additional work will occur in the coming months to identify other key links in the Auckland strategic cycling network that can be delivered.

It will be interesting to see what other strategic links could be delivered. The most immediate one that springs to mind could be the Northern Pathway section between Akoranga and Constellation Drive. Alternatively, how about a programme to build safe cycling facilities around schools?

Finally, the government have said they would use some of the money for a “range of high quality regional transport projects“. The only example of this they give is a project in Ashburton.

“We also plan to invest $2 million into the Ashburton Rail Hub to unlock a $14 million upgrade to freight operations in the area. This partnership with local freight company Wareing Group, KiwiRail and Ashburton District Council will triple rail freight capacity, helping to get more trucks off the road, reducing emissions, and supporting the regional economy.

It seems other projects will be announced in coming months and it would be even more disappointing if this ended up being a bunch of state highway or local road projects.

Is Light Rail about to meet the same fate?

One thing I do worry about is that Light Rail (ALR) is heading down the same path and could end up meeting the same fate as the Northern Pathway. Like the Northern Pathway, work on ALR has been extremely secretive and there hasn’t been a proper public discussion over issues like costs, routes and modes as well as other trade-offs. A recommendation on all of these has already gone to the government. I fear they’ve been presented with an option that extremely expensive and that once it’s made public, will face significant criticism and eventually be scrapped.

That they’ve so easily given up on the Northern Pathway doesn’t give any hope they’d stand up to any criticism over light rail and now opposition parties, local groups opposing change and clickbait focused media have a blueprint for how to stop it.

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181 comments

  1. The cycling/walking only bridge was hands-down one of the dumbest ideas to ever come out of Wellington in a long time. It was purely a ‘see, they don’t want this’ exercise to justify an ongoing work programme on massively expensive tunnels. A combined mode bridge could have solved all Harbour crossing problems, but it wasn’t on the table when the tunnel options were last weighed up. Can’t imagine why that might be.

    It should never have been a case of funding the Eastern Busway on a reasonable timetable OR this dumb bridge – the fact that this was a trade-off Auckland was expected to live with shows you how little the needs of Auckland actually come into NZTA decision-making. That gives more grounds for concern for the future of Light Rail in Auckland than anything else.

    1. Steady on you are being a bit harsh. There are plenty of dumb ideas that come out of Wellington, this was just one of them.

      1. I’d just like to point out that MP Michael Wood is the MP for Mt Roskill, a suburb of Auckland… and I suspect that the design for the bridge was done in Auckland, by Aucklanders, and that while Wellington can be said to be dumb to build a city on top of an earthquake fault line, at least we didn’t build a city on an isthmus filled with 50 volcanoes…

        1. Ha. We went and doubled down. They looked at all of the most likely places for the next eruption in Auckland and upzoned those areas to allow intensification, while doing their best to stop development everywhere an eruption can’t occur.

        2. I’m sure that the use of ‘Wellington’ was metonymy and that no offense was intended to the neglected shantytown that shares space with the central government’s bureaucracy.

    2. I’d love to have seen the public presented with a couple of options: an active modes bridge soon (“now”), or active modes + PT a little further down the track (“by 2030”).

      Some straightforward storytelling along these lines would have been immensely useful in helping the public see the wider vision – and would have sparked some really productive lines of discussion.

      Especially if you launch the discussion with a broad panoply of *everyone* who’ll benefit from *either* option. So, walkers, runners, scooter-commuters, mobility and accessibility advocates, cargo-bike delivery companies, a thousand kids on bicycles, young people on skateboards and roller skates, Cr Casey and her cute lil’ dogs, mana whenua from both sides of the bridge, Auckland Unlimited and Kāinga Ora and Eke Panuku and Tourism NZ… Heck, even the AA could see the value.

      Whereas, standing back and letting the idea of a full-access “zero-carbon bridge for all the people” be rapidly collapsed by talkback reckons into a “boomer bike bridge” just let everyone down.

      1. On the flip side, there are some matters (e.g. engineering, feasibility, cost) where the general public aren’t really experts, and where the evidence on which are the best modes needs to be laid down. Maybe I misinterpreted your comment, but I am concerned about the line between transparent public discussion and ‘giving a few groups/individuals too much leverage’.

        With the light rail consultation, even though it’s been empirically stated (twice now!) that BRT, trackless trams, or heavy rail to the Airport would not be economically viable or deliver optimal transit solutions/routings, you can bet there’ll still be some Dominion Rd shopowners insisting that trackless trams would not require rebuilding the road surface, or heavy rail advocates insisting that a <5 minute time saving & reduced frequencies is worth squandering the TOD potential down the spine of the Isthmus.

        Or with the Waitemata active mode crossing – the suggestion of a shuttle bus, ferry, or even a gondola keep on cropping up.

        With presenting multiple options to the public, I believe the discarded options should also be shown, with easily-understandable explanations why they were discarded.

        1. Good point, Matt. I guess in this case, the two “options” made available for public consideration were: a people-movement bridge (climate action, albeit not inexpensive, doable within the decade), or rejecting that outright (climate delay).

          In the alternative scenario, we’d have been invited to consider a people-movement bridge (climate action, albeit not inexpensive, doable within the decade), or that PLUS public transport (climate action, slightly more expensive, also doable within the decade)

          Option three in each case still being liberating lanes for active transport and bus priority (affordable, immediate, just needs political oomph and communication behind it… luckily this government has clearly stated that climate change is its nuclear-free moment, eh?).

  2. As part of justification for the bridge announced in June, NZTA said that busses, ferries and a gondola (sigh) were all looked as a way for bikes to cross the harbour, and were ruled out. Now that has been reversed, so can the decision to not allocate space to bikes.

  3. The least surprising news ever, just seemed like a terribly thought out idea to begin with.

    On to light rail and how to sabotage that…

    1. My bet’s on underground light metro, with fewer stations on the Isthmus section so “whoops we’ll still need to retain local buses on Dominion Rd and Queen St”.

  4. Free or cheap and frequent ferry from Northcote Point from early 2022 and you’re 80% there. Or am I missing something?

    Can then build a combined bridge later.

      1. They probably did have to 80 odd years ago (well I guess they just drove around). I think it sounds like a good interim solution until they decide on a proper way forward. It is obvious that something is going to be done with the harbour crossing; spending $800 mil in the mean time would be as stupid as redoing your main street a year before digging it up for light rail.

        1. Yea they fully did, I know people that did so.

          More I am pointing out how much time and farting around that this will involve.
          As daily bridge commuter, adding 20 minutes plus and probably a cost, will mean I won’t use the service. Also Ebikes are going to be punished by the mode swap.

        2. nup. There isn’t going to be a rational stage of “deciding on a proper way forward”. This is a war between the old thinking and the new. And WK’s engineers are the stronghold of the old.

        3. Mum-of-two: Both major parties are now promising another harbour crossing, and I think both include vehicles.

        4. Make the bike ferry free, as long as you show up with a bike.

          No foot traffic, there’s enough other ferries..

          Have two ferries running at peak times, one from each side so the wait time is 10mins or so max.

          Done and dusted for about $2M per ferry?

        5. ma, I think that would be counterproductive. Walking over the bridge is important too; we don’t want a solution just for cycling. This would be an effective way to divide and conquer.

        6. Jimbo, their harbour crossing plan is $15,000 million, the cost of capital on that is $600 million a year, for forty years in a row.

          You could build the cycle bridge for $800m and the motorway tunnel two years later and it would still be cheaper than building the motorway tunnel straight away… and the motorway tunnel still doesn’t get you walking or cycling across the harbour.

    1. Yep. You’re missing the option of liberating a lane or two on the current bridge.

      Probably cheaper to do that than operate a high-frequency ferry, and would attract more pedestrian & cyclist users as well.

      1. Your obsession for carving off two lanes of the Harbour Bridge defies reality. Were not going to peddle over the bridge rain, hail, cyclone or shine and abandon motor vehicles in grateful emancipation.

        The costs of productivity lost through traffic chaos would be phenomimal far outweighing a gold plated ferry. And our poll watching government know it.

        Either a dedicated alternative bridge/subway or ferry is the answer.

        And there simply must be an alternate crossing underway because all the eggs are in one high risk basket with that aging infrastructure.

        1. Your obsession with retaining as many vehicle lanes as possible defies logic. Retaining 8 lanes will not improve congestion or emissions. With a 7-lane or 6-lane bridge, reduced demand would come into play. Fewer people would drive across the bridge, more people would catch the bus, walk, cycle, or drive via the Western Ring Route – this is proven overseas, in many instances.

          Wind & safety barriers could be installed as part of reallocating lanes.

          Why wait 10-15 years to have an active-mode harbour crossing when an interim option can be done now? Yes, a dedicated walk/cycle/light rail bridge (not a tunnel, I can’t see how a 3-5km under active mode tunnel would be safe or economically feasible) is best for the long-term; but climate change is not just going to pause so that Mike Hosking & his followers can have 8 lanes to hog up.

          The Harbour bridge will be able to cope with car traffic indefinitely, with continued maintenance. The Western Ring Route will provide resilience for vehicles.

      2. The bridge is scheduled to have tolls (traffic demand management) running in 2025. Taking one lane for active mode transport and avoiding congestion should be possible.
        I would pick the outer lane of the north bound clip on from a structural engineers point of view, as this clipon is currently the most heavily loaded and has the shortest life. Taking the load off should extend its life.

        1. And I cycle daily; rain, hail, cyclone, lightning you name it. I will admit that hail hurts but this is how much I hate taking the bus.

    2. Alexander- A well canvased idea whose time has come. Make it direct to the western side if the Harbour Bridge. It would be a 5 minute trip. $1 per trip. And the infrastructure surely would not take that long to procure?

      But as always zero thought from our Ministers or council has been put into such an alternative.

      1. Anyone who has been a regular ferry/cycle commuter would not think this a reasonable alternative.

        Ferries are horribly expensive to run, too expensive to provide the kind of frequency a true turn up and ride peak service would need.

        Ferries take a long time to for all passengers to embark and disembark, adding dwell time to the infequency of the service.

        There are no ferries in the existing Auckland fleet that are suited to carrying bikes, and the crossing is really hard on bikes – they are not build with a marine environment in mind. Components corrode with the salt spray and poor on-deck storage leads to scraped paint, bent levers, etc.

        There are no ferries at the moment that are even vaguely environmentally friendly, so sticking a big lump of diesel-powered infrastructure in the middle of an otherwise zero-emission journey is not welcome.

        A better solution would be an electric shuttle bus, properly fitted to bike storage.

        A far better solution still would be taking a lane on the existing bridge and just let people walk / ride / scoot / skateboard across the harbour as and when they want to.

        1. A simple roll-on/off ferry like those used all over the world would do the job nicely…especially if only covering a short distance back and forth. The loading unloading thing then becomes very fast, plenty of space, cheap to operate and 10kts running speed is faster than most would ride over a bridge anyway. Return trip could be done in well under 20 minutes (one way in we’ll under 10). There’s land available at the Southern end for a landing ramp… would just need some guiding dolphins.

        2. “10kts running speed is faster than cycling”… you’re joking, right.

          Average urban cycling speed varies between 15-25km/h. 10 knots is at the lower end of that (18km/h) – and you’re not counting the additional time of docking, disembarking, and boarding a ferry (~5 minutes at each end). You’d be lucky to get from Northcote to Westhaven in 20 minutes one way, including the wait for the ferry at one end.

          E-bikes make hillclimbing a lot easier and quicker. But even in that case many cyclists who participated in the Liberate the Lane rally stated they found the grade easy enough. The whole Northcote Point-Downtown leg could be cycled in the same 20 minutes that it would take to get to Westhaven by ferry, and you’d be able to do that at any time you liked, not having to wait for a set-frequency ferry.

    3. its a bit of a double edged sword. It does give the option for those that need it. But given it is not as good or reliable a link, the much lower uptake numbers give opponents of cyle infrastructure ammo against future cycle links in general.

  5. How much money has been spent building the team to do this work – with all the contractual and legal work that requires – and on designing, building up relationships, sorting out the ecological issues that were raised in the original environmental impact assessments reports for the AWHC?

    That’s all taxpayer money – do you really need to toss it all away, Minister?

    Or can the alliance be pivoted to work on something else – eg a whole lot of walking and cycling bridges – over motorways, rail lines, and other severance – needed to make walking trips more direct, and create a cycling network…

    In this way, the alliance would still be there, ready to go, as soon as you give the green light for an Active + Public Transport bridge.

  6. Short-term: reallocate 1 or 2 clip-on lanes on the Harbour Bridge for walking & cycling. Turn the “temporary summer trial” into a permanent (interim) solution. Overrule the NZTA’s objections.

    Medium-term: design and build an active mode + mass transit bridge as part of AWHC. Whether it carries light rail from new, or is built with bus lanes that can be converted later to light rail.

    1. 100% agree
      Reallocating one lane, and then potential a second lane, is the cheapest and quickest option to show how many people would make dump the car and walk/cycle across.

  7. My heart bleeds for the Skypath team. To have put so much effort and money into a scheme that nearly made it only to have it handed to WK’s ‘professionals’ to bring to fruition. Then to watch said same professionals proceed, by accident or design, to do a hatched job on the entire proposal, aided and abetted by a politically inept roll out. Gutting. Thanks guys for trying. You had our support but obviously we’ve all underestimated the anti brigade.

    1. +1 Mr Plod. It is hard to believe this whole ‘walking and cycling bridge’ sideshow wasn’t a deliberate ploy some clever strategist to sink the idea of any non-road crossing. And less-clever (or complicit) politicians, instead of dismissing it, gave it seeming legitimacy and set it up as a target to be predictably shot down. Seems to be how the world works.

        1. Much as I would like to trust Michael Wood, it is hard to interpret this in any better way.

  8. Why in the world are they even mentioning the word tunnel when this is an option?

    As we learnt from a ministerial briefing paper on the project that was released in July a better option from all of their assessments was to build a combined public transport and active mode bridge.

    They said the bridge itself would cost just 10% more than the $685 million the active mode only bridge was expected to cost. It also would have required up to $1 billion more on the approaches for public transport but it’s likely much of that could have happened at a later date.

    1. Could be NZTA’s innate bias towards cars and a new motorway tunnel, or it could be an indicator that the government is leaning towards light metro and believes that LM wouldn’t be able to handle a bridge (which isn’t true, light metro can run at up to 6% gradients; the same or greater than the existing Harbour Bridge)

    2. Because Waka Kotahi just want to build highways. That’s their purpose, their goal, their reason for existing.
      They already worked out it’s impossible to build a motorway bridge and fill in the harbour edge for the connecting motorway lanes, so it must be a really long tunnel.

      Anything else is an obstacle to building their motorway so it has to be dumped, ignored or in this case, actively and cynically manipulated away.

  9. “The Government has both listened and acted” – by proposing a bridge nobody asked for, and then not building it? A bit of transparency into that process would be nice. I’d like to see them pump some of that money into alternative provisions for active modes across Auckland and outside of the isthmus, then. Are they listening?

    1. Well he’s not wrong, technically.

      The government “acted” by putting forward an unrealistic, unpopular, and uncalled for option, then “listened” to the loud pro-car minority.

      1. Touché. I’m a bit tired of listening to pro-car rhetoric, I’d like my son to have a reasonably safe planet to inhabit.

        1. Ironic Matt you want figures for your “minority “claim. That’s the trouble with these things, make shit up as you go does not help the cause for trust.

          In a Newshub Reid Research poll in early August, 81.7 per cent of respondents said they did not support the crossing and only 11.9 per cent said they did.

          Minority, yeah nah! Not really, eh?

          Turkeys don’t vote for an early Christmas, nor do governments!

        2. Keith – not a good comparison. Opposition to an overwrought bridge does not equate to opposition to any active mode crossing of the harbour bridge. Newshub presented a biased question.

          It’s like the dogmatic heavy rail fans framing light rail as a “slow tram”. Of course nobody wants a $10 billion dollar slow tram to the airport, but light rail will not cost $10 billion (unless it’s underground light metro), and it will not be a slow tram (40 minutes CBD-Airport, in its own median strip or right-of-way at all times).

          What percentage of people would support or oppose any walkway/cycleway crossing of the Waitemata Harbour? Whether it be the Skypath, a liberated lane, or a light rail + active mode bridge?

        3. Matt Bear, light rail in-the-street fans are very dogmatic that this mode will be faster to the airport than the present Train-plus-express bus which takes over 50 minutes. There are so many untested assumptions in this dogmatism that it carries no force at all.

        4. Dave – Matt L has made detailed calculations (and shown his working) that light rail could conceivably take 42 minutes Britomart to the Airport, taking into account the 30km/h speed limit on Queen St and the 50km/h speed limit on Dominion Rd. As long as light rail is given enough priority at intersections & traffic lights I see no reason why that should not be possible.

          Overseas light rail systems with some street running sections can still average speeds of 25-40km/h end-to-end. Auckland’s light rail would require an average speed of 33km/h to achieve a 42 minute City-to-Airport travel time.

        5. Dave, those assumptions have been tested. Both mathmetically tested as in matt’s analysis and empirically tested by actually running such services in other cities.

        6. Matt and Sailor Boy, I appreciate what you say. However the existing rail system OUGHT to be able to perform a lot faster than it does. When the CAF trains were proposed, they were SUPPOSED to achieve much faster journeys than the previous diesels. However a combination of safety-overreach, risk-aversion, and paranoia over punctuality have led to them performing disappointingly slowly. It is very premature to assume that a similarly restrictive regime will not be imposed on on-street LRT which is potentially much more hazardous than rail on a protected right-of-way. For instance, 30Km/h (or less) may be insisted upon anywhere that is not fenced.

        7. Dave – fair concern, but an an all-new light rail system designed and built from scratch will probably be able to be designed better for-purpose than a legacy heavy rail system dating back to the 1870s-1930s.

          Light rail systems overseas operate at 50km/h when separated from traffic by a kerb (as proposed for Dominion Rd in 2016). Los Angeles & Seattle light rail travel at 60km/h if separated from traffic by a fence.

          My concern around speed is if AT/NZTA sabotage light rail by minimizing the separation from traffic or the priority given to light rail at intersections. That I think would add the most time to the journey. It’s a question of keeping the pressure on the government to ensure that light rail is built to the optimal specs.

          What mode would you suggest for Auckland CBD-Airport rapid transit, if not at-grade light rail?

        8. That’s a reasonable concern. It’s worth pointing out that the difference in total travel time is less than 5 minutes even if you reduce the maximum speed on Ian McKinnon Drive and Dominion Road to 30 km/h.

      2. At the time the stand-alone bridge I said to my friends in the cycling advocacy world that I think Michael Wood (and other people like Patrick Reynolds who was also supporting the new project) either were very foolish (running into a clearly visible trap), or didn’t really care about cycling.

        I still believe that now, more than ever. Labour is useless on transport.

  10. This was an epic and colossal failure by all involved, from the Minister to the Ministry to Waka Kotahi. If Waka Kotahi’s board and management can’t find a solution, we need a new board and management. I know Michael Wood is a cycle-and-transit friendly minister (unlike say, National’s new transport spokesperson) so it’s even more galling that he’s been unable to achieve anything. It’s more evidence for the case that Labour is good at promising things, but poor on delivering them.

    The decision also ignores climate change reality: we need to make it easier for people to bike and bus and train places as quickly as possible, and we also need to make it harder for people to drive places.

    1. Chris,l think Waka Kotahi got exactly what they wanted,they now have Michael Wood firmly in their back pocket,he should have been more savvy,to their ways,unlike his hapless predecessor. As has been stated,this does not look good for light rail, the gold plated option will be rolled out,only to be canned.

    2. I feel as though Michael Wood is a character in ‘Yes Minister’ or ‘Utopia’

      Facing a very experienced and skilled (at political infighting) set of professionals embedded in organisations like Waka Kotahi, who are very happy with a car orientated status quo, and who want nothing to to with active modes or public transport.

      But Yes, Minister, we will look at Skypath and Light rail, until another 3 years goes by and whoops, another government minister, so they need to reset (again)

      Labour don’t have long to fix this; they really need to get organization changes happening, or they will be faced with institutional paralysis that will make them seem increasingly inept

  11. Councillor Darby: “The Otaki – Levin motorway with its negative BCR snuck by without any interogation. Provincial Labour MPs in their utes don’t get cities.”

    This is true, but it would be more relevant to the decisions being made in Auckland, to call out PENLINK as the example, and to point out that Car Dependent Councillors ALSO don’t get cities.

    And for that matter, you could highlight that you and your colleagues put Matakana Link Rd onto Council’s “shovel-ready funding” wishlist, and that’s why it’s being built.

    All of these roads are sealing the fate of our children’s future, Darby. It’s time to stop fudging the science and negotiating away reasonable choices in the name of compromise. We need leadership.

    1. Heidi, well said. And of course add the project in Chris’s back yard, the downgrading of the Esmonde Road buslane. It is just an absolute and complete disgrace that this is to be converted into a transit lane. At a basic level the maths of it simply doesn’t work. If it was possible for more cars from Esmonde Road to enter the motorway then the phasing on the on ramp lines would be increased. There would not be need for a transit lane.
      As often as I ask the agencies for an answer I don’t receive one. It’s not too late Chris, overturn this shambles.

    2. Heidi I think penlink could be contorted into a winner
      I pitch it as a busway extension that allows private vehicles on for a decent toll.
      Could essentially pay for a busway extension with toll fares.

      provided:

      The toll is set such its a decent minimum base fare + whatever is required to keep the busses running fully congestion free, say maximum sub 1k private vehicles per hour.
      I don’t have the appropriate tools, but it shouldn’t induce much if any traffic with relatively low throughput and decent tolls, and most of them were probably previously going via SH1 anyway.
      The improvement in the bus service would be so great for most of the peninsula that you could very well divert a lot of SH1 car trips.
      A potential traffic reduction on the peninsula could be a politically easy opportunity to add good cycle infra around the station.
      The infrastructure could be cheap. No need for penlink – SH1 motorway to motorway ramps, just a single direction 1/2 diamond interchange, single lane each way, with some bus jump lanes at either end, rope median, narrower bridge, perhaps even an 80km/hr limit with tighter curves.
      There is a good cycleway following it the whole way.

      It provides better long term capacity than even the double laned car version and provides great connectivity for the community.

      1. Agreed – I’d have some support for Penlink if it’s kept to 2 lanes for general traffic AND has provision for bus rapid transit or future light rail/light metro.

        The ATAP indicates that NX2 buses would run along Penlink to Whangaparaoa Plaza – presumably there’s the possibility of branching light rail service between Orewa and Whangaparaoa once it’s extended north of Albany?

        And would it be relevant to consider designing stations for Stillwater at the Karepiro Bay development?

        1. Yeah, I know Greenfields development is everyone’s worst nightmare, but in stillwater and Karepiro bay’s case, the busway / expensive toll road would likely be an extremely express route, it would be one of the few (only?) greenfields development areas with great PT and kinda ‘poor’ / slow roads. The PT would soak up a huge portion of the trips. With the further development of busway stations inwards on the busy into TOD’s we expect to see, living mostly on the busway would be more than feasible.

          Of course this plan hinges on so many decisions, that any one being really wrong could totally torpedo the plan and bring about a car centric poor outcome.

        2. Jack, have you thought through all the reasons not to do Greenfields?

          And all the reasons not to put an engineering structure through ecosystems unnecessarily?

          You might come to a different conclusion.

        3. Heidi – yes I’m aware of the environmental downsides of greenfields developments, but Stillwater and Whangaparaoa are existing settlements and Karepiro Bay is already under development.

          If Penlink does go ahead I think there’s a solid argument for mass transit (BRT or LRT) alongside it; counteract the intrusive infrastructure and construction with a more environmentally friendly transit mode.

        4. The solid argument “if” it goes ahead is less important than the solid argument “that” it shouldn’t go ahead.

          “More roads plus more transit” – evidence shows this is not sufficient to reduce emissions and is a failed approach that’s really based on trying to achieve improvements without overturning the political economy of car dependence.

          Penlink should not be built. It will induce emissions and vkt. It fits into the “faster over longer distances” paradigm instead of the “improve the sustainable modes for local living” paradigm.

          The vkt it induces will degrade the rest of the city.

          It’s being built for political reasons, but the politicians who pushed and agreed to this should be publicly castigated for their two-facedness. They claim they care about climate and then undermine climate action. They needed to lead and explain about induced demand and sprawl to the population. It’s not ok.

        5. I have to admit Heidi, I’m a bit biased, I like built structures. One of my last wilderness tramping holidays last year was pretty much exclusively to go and look in awe the Manapouri hydro stations pylons ‘majestically’ streaking through the Fiordland bush.

          https://imgur.com/a/1xYoOYW

        6. I can understand that, Jack. My travels have been often focused on the engineering feats of the area. And I once had a job driving a retired US geologist tourist around NZ. His particular hobby was insulators from powerpoles. We often stopped the car where powerpoles had been replaced to see if there were insulators left on the ground from the earlier installation. 🙂

          Unfortunately, the engineers’ love of building structures has been an unhelpful force in NZ decision-making. Loving that smell of tarmac doesn’t make one more suitable as a decision-maker, and may make one less suitable, as most decisions fit for a sustainable world require making the best use of existing infrastructure by reducing the load on it. If you like building new structures, it’s hard not to prefer a solution that involves building new structures.

  12. So what is happening with the harbour bridge? We seem to be getting mixed reports: some days the clipons are about to fall off, other days everything will be fine forever, and the last I heard the whole bridge was knackered. Maybe it is time to build a parallel bridge (say 8 lanes), temporarily more the traffic there, demolish the old, build a new 8 lane bridge there, then have say 10 lanes for traffic, 2 lanes for PT, 2 lanes for walking and cycling, and 2 lanes for “future expansion” (whatever mode needs it). I imagine this would be the cheapest option to achieve everything required, much cheaper than any tunnel.

      1. Depends if you are talking per capita emissions or total emissions. And whether the vehicles on the bridge are electric or ICE.
        Realistically there is no chance the NZ public will vote in a government that rebuilt the harbour bridge with the same number of vehicle lanes or less. I thought “only” increasing to 10 was a fairly pragmatic outcome.

        1. Providing more lanes just locks us into a realm of forever widening roads as you create more pinch points. We need to start reallocating space for more efficient modes.

        2. First, we must understand the science and outline our common goals using ethics as a basis.
          Second, we must run some scenario planning for how things might pan out internationally.
          Third, we must respond to the urgency by getting underway the elements of planning that are common to the scenarios.
          Fourth, we must discuss the options we have to achieving our goals, produce a plan, and act.

          Cabinet hasn’t taken step one. Nor have they got a clue about the rest of it, and so are limiting action based on reckons of how the NZ public will vote BEFORE THIS DISCUSSION HAS BEEN HAD. This is a known delaying tactic that falls into the category of climate denial.

          The active mode bridge – with or without public transport added – is an example of a project that would serve all scenarios.

          Penlink is not. Matakana Link Rd is not. Widening SH1 is not. The road building they’re doing in the NW is not.

          If you want to be part of a responsible discussion, take responsibility for yourself: Take Step one. Understand the science.

        3. Vinny I get that but do you think much of the voting public do? And this isn’t “forever widening roads”, it is a once in a lifetime replacement of the harbour bridge to make it stable and future proof.

        4. If ever the Climate Lawyers wanted to challenge a high profile transport project a new Harbour Bridge with more car lanes would be the project. Nothing about more car lanes will be simple.
          “EVs make about 0.3 percent of New Zealand’s fleet – comprising about 20,000 of the nearly 5.5 million registered vehicles – well short of the goal of 64,000 EVs on the road by the end of next year.”
          Yes it is from last year Jimbo, but in the medium term EVs are not the answer to fixing the emissions crisis. And what’s the medium term? Could it be 20 years because most of the ICE vehicles bought today will be just be leaving the roads then.

        5. @JimboJones – if fully replacing/rebuilding the Harbour Bridge is necessary it shouldn’t have more than 8 general traffic lanes. There shouldn’t be more vehicle lanes across the Waitemata than there are already (5 lanes on the Upper Harbour bridge, 8 lanes on the old ‘coathanger’).

          What a potential rebuilt harbour bridge should include is walking/cycle paths and mass transit; at least 2 light rail tracks. I fail to see how that wouldn’t get public support.

        6. Heidi your four steps sound like a great process, but that isn’t what any government does. Their step 1 is to figure out what might get them re-elected. Step 2 is figure out if they can pay for step 1. Step 3 is review and kill off anything that doesn’t meet step 1 and delay anything that fails at step 2.

        7. Correct, miffy. And while deliberative democracy options weren’t understood, politicians could be forgiven – it seemed like they did not have democratic options.

          Now, they cannot be forgiven. We now understand that continuing with this pattern is undemocratic, and that they have the choice to achieve better options, which are more democratic.

          We also understand where their failure to make this change is leading us, and that our kids will pay the price with their health – physical, environmental, economic, political and social.

          I’m truly revolted.

        8. I am too but not by the rejection of this. I knew the bike bridge was doomed the day it was announced when Mrs mfwic, who supports practically every liberal cause, was outraged and said she would protest against this appalling waste of money. If they can’t carry people like her with them then they have no chance. Her main and only objection was wasting such a sum on the overprivileged of the shore.

      1. What is your suggestion if the Harbour bridge does need to be replaced? Tunnels?
        Building a parallel bridge provides the opportunity to replace the old worn out one and have a decent harbour crossing for all modes that should last for a very long time, all without the crazy cost of tunnels. Maybe they could build something that looked good this time too.

        1. If we’re talking about completely replacing/rebuilding the current Harbour Bridge, I say replace it in situ with a new single structure rather than a parallel bridge. 8 general traffic lanes (potentially 2 allocated as transit lanes or bus lanes), Skypath-type enclosed cycleway & walkways on either side, and 2 tracks for light rail.

          If the current bridge can last indefinitely with maintenance, I say build a parallel bridge for active modes and light rail only. Trucks must run via the Western Ring Route.

        2. Matt the eastern section of the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco was replaced. They built the new one next to the old one and once completed deconstructed the old bridge. It meant traffic continued flowing as normal while the new bridge was being built and a smooth change over to the new structure.
          So no I don’t think building a completely new bridge in the same location as the current one is a good idea at all.

      1. Even better then. Leave it there and build a new parallel bridge for walking / cycling / PT / trucks (to get the weight off the old bridge)

        1. Walking, cycling, PT – yes.

          Trucks – no. Send ’em via the Western Ring Route, or even better get more Northland freight onto rail.

        2. Jimbo, I’m not sure if its mentioned in that post, but the center spans of the bridge are much stronger and do not have the same fatigue issues as the newer clip on sections.
          The inside 4 lanes are fine for heavy traffic indefinitely.

          Plus like has been mentioned the upper harbor route is a great alternative, and is soon going to be much more attractive for through traffic with the faster motorway to motorway ramps being added.
          I personally think they should change SH1 to go on that route too.

        3. And to reiterate, the outside clip ons fatigue just mean that the heaviest vehicles will be restricted. Light car traffic is fine for at least many decades, probably much longer.

          A PT and cycling bridge does not preclude a replacement crossing for cars in the future. Although in 50+ years I seriously doubt that project would even be considered. The best people to make decisions for long in the future are people in future who will have more of the facts about what’s needed. Bringing up a replacement half a century early, and trying to unnecessarily spend to ‘future proof’ something with debt, that future generations will have to pay for, is not the right thing to do.

          There’s simply no need to prematurely replace a large piece of infrastructure.

        4. SH16 is a congested mess already, we don’t need any more traffic sent down it just purely so the North Shore can get even more public transport access than it already has, and given the near total absence of it on the route you’re proposing on redirecting all that heavy traffic. down.

        5. @Buttwizard – disingenuous to suggest that advocates of liberating a harbour bridge lane don’t also support Northwestern mass transit.

          The Northwest has a dedicated active mode path. The North Shore doesn’t.

          The Northern Busway will reach capacity and need replacing with light rail within the next 20 years, and I would support a Northwestern light rail line built in the same timeframe.

        6. @butwizard
          That’s quite the false equivalence or misinterpretation. Its sending more heavy traffic down the WRR to avoid spending 12+ billion on a boondoggle, harbour vehicle tunnel. Money that would suck up other Auckland region funding and would probably put the nail in the coffin of good northwest rapid transit for decades.

    1. Jimbo, are you serious? Building a new ten lane harbour bridge, demolishing the existing harbour bridge, building a replacement harbour bridge then demolishing the new ten lane bridge?!

      You’re proposing to build two new bridges and demolish two bridges, to end up with… one bridge!

      Why not build one new bridge, leave it st that and end up with two bridges?

  13. A quick question – seeing as the $685million bridge is descended from an earlier estimated $300million bridge, and seeing as that was the replacement for the very first privately designed / planned $30million bridge way back a decade or so ago – is there any chance that Auckland could just go back to the plans for the $30million bridge now? With tolls, and all clipped on the side, as originally planned?

    1. Not with the weak ground conditions under the main span pier. It would be a brave person who signed off any additional load. Even the light weight carbon fibre structure would be too much

  14. It’s amazing how projects can fallover just because of mindless criticism. An example is WK’s redesigning St project in Huron/Northcroft streets Takapuna. The changes were seemingly scuttled by mindless comments about how people don’t like dots; how if they like dots they don’t like them that colour; that if they both like dots and are ok with the colour then they should not be on roads. And then people really became incensed that the planters resembled KFC containers, although they are neither the same shape or colour.
    Sadly the days of rational debate are gone and it’s all about what fits into a 30 second sound bite, or four line post.

  15. I was on the Northern Pathway team for much of this project and I am quietly relieved the project died. There was just a complete lack of leadership from WK / NZTA to make decisions and get the job done, and more focus on backfilling business cases and miscellaneous paperwork. It also felt like a missed opportunity to discard with the PT + active modes bridge. Hopefully a good local network on the Shore, supplemented with an improved ferry service (suggest buying a boat with ample room for bikes) from Northcote Point can be built to salvage something from the project.

    1. The better north shore network will certainly build the case heavily for the future. Glaring gaps in networks get filled, eg the eastern pathway and AMETI cycleway. Whereas the mostly from scratch nature of the north shore “long” distance bike network is certainly a disadvantage. Plus trips within the north shore network are important.

    2. Looking at google maps I see there is a wharf at Northcote point can the cycle/walking path (Sea path?) get there. Anyway build another wharf on the Auckland side almost under the bridge next to the Ponsonby cruising club and run a ferry it can only be 500 metres something like 5 mins to get across. Extend the Wynyard tram down Westhaven drive to the base of the bridge and the wharf. Build a bus stop for the buses from the busway around about where the toll booths used to be so people can do the round trip. Of course there would need to be a bridge or tunnel across the motorway there. Anyway the whole thing just needs to be cool to get families out of their SUV driving to God knows where on a Sunday thus saving on emissions. And there might even be the odd commuting cyclists who would use it as well. And one more thought why not a landing craft type vessel (RO RO for bikes) there are many of these types of vessels operating around the country. And it probably doesn’t need to be that big.

      1. Cyclists don’t want to have to get on a ferry or a shuttle bus – they want to be able to ride directly across the harbour. That’s why past efforts with ferries or shuttle buses didn’t work.

        1. Yes, I believe so.

          Waiting 10 minutes for a ferry that takes 10-15 minutes to cross the harbour is going to be less appealing than being able to ride all the way, continuously, from Northcote Point to the CBD in 5-10 minutes.

        2. You keep banging that drum Matt but given the option of a mega billion dollar bridge in is as much unobtainium as liberating a lane the a ferry seems like a good option.

          Catching a ferry is one of the nicest ways to travel.

          Make it a dedicated bike service running regularly that drops you at
          at the Northern pathway and it’ll well patronised.

        3. Matt you never read my posts if the ferry is just going to cross the harbour roughly on the alignment of the bridge the trip will be less than 5 minutes and it can run as required just try and use your imagination a bit.

        4. @ma – I’m pretty sure that ‘liberating a lane’ would be cheaper (~$20 million) than operating a high-frequency ferry service for however many years it takes for a permanent AWHC active mode crossing to be built. Upgrading wharves, purchasing new ferries, advertising, running costs, subsidizing the “free cyclists” thing etc. will add up.

          And, once again I stress that cyclists want to ride continuously between the Shore & City, not stop to wait for a shuttle ferry or bus that takes more than twice as long as if they were just able to bike the whole way. For example, I, personally, would rather walk half an hour than wait half an hour for the next bus, if the option is available to me.

          Or are you in favour of demolishing the Harbour Bridge entirely, asking car drivers to stop at Northcote Point and wait for a car ferry across to the city as well?

          A combined light rail + active mode bridge from Wynyard to Onewa Rd would be far less expensive than any tunnel option. The “unobtainium” is purely in NZTA’s continued car-bias and the government’s reluctance to deviate from the transport status quo.

        5. This cyclist would happily catch the ferry across, and it would be a nice ride up along queen street, Northcote is quite a pretty suburb. A 10-15min crossing seems quite an exaggeration to me.

        6. Royce – try and use your imagination a bit too. Imagine one or two lanes on the present bridge converted to a pathway, for a similar cost as your shuttle ferry proposal.

          Pedestrians & cyclists would be able to travel continuously from the North Shore to the city or vice versa, without having to wait around at a wharf for a ferry.

          Sure, it’s not a permanent solution – but it would be inexpensive and would be able to last until a permanent solution (ideally a light rail + active mode bridge) gets built by the 2030s.

        7. I’m having a good chuckle at everyone who thinks we could dock a ferry at a wharf under the bridge at Westhaven. Have you seen how rough it gets in there with wind against tide?

        8. @Sam

          5 minutes Northcote wharf to Westhaven – plus <5 minutes at each end for boarding & disembarking. Plus up to a 10 minutes wait at either end. Plus the 5-10 minute ride from Westhaven to the CBD. Total at least 20 minutes, possibly up to half an hour.

          Meanwhile riding continuously across the bridge from Northcote Point to the city (~5km) would take around 12-20 minutes, at an average urban cycling speed (15-25km/h)

        9. sailorboy, why would you dock outside of Westhaven when you can dock inside the marina? Kinda like the car ferries just started doing…

        10. Matt, if we didn’t have an agency called waka kotahi with many decades of institutionalised bike haterz running the show I’d agree with you.

          Actually, I do agree with you anyway. I currently ride from the shore to the airport for my commute so would very much appreciate the ability to ride over the bridge.

          But getting a lane from the rabid car driving Aucklanders is as absurd an idea as the bridge WK just scuttled imo. It’s not happening. Might as well look to other ways.

        11. @ma, a wharf on the harbour side of the existing breakwater was Royce’s idea. I was critiquing the idea.

          If the ferry was going to go anywhere, I actually think it should just go to downtown.

      2. A ferry won’t be a 5 minutes trip, it will close to 20. It’s probably going to have a cost and it won’t be in operation 24/7 365. It’s going to be token and will endlessly attacked by anti bike commentators.

        The lane being liberated is the alternative, not the bike bridge.

        1. Seconded. Last time I rode the Devonport ferry it took it’s sweet time turning around as it left the wharf. I had thought it would be quicker than facing the Lake Rd traffic on the 814 bus, but perhaps it wasn’t.

          Repairing Northcote Point wharf cost $1 million, and an all-new upgraded facility would cost $11 million – similar works would be needed at the new ferry berth in Westhaven/Wynyard. The Torea and Koroa ferries each cost $9 million.

          Annual maintenance of the two new wharves could be anything between $100,000 and $1 million each year. Presumably maintaining a reallocated active mode lane on the Harbour Bridge would be little different to present maintenance costs.

      3. Sailor Boy there would have to be a breakwater. But given that the whole dam area is already reclaimed I don’t think its a big deal.

        1. So you’re proposing the ferry actually berths in the Westhaven Marina itself (where there’s a 5 knot speed restriction), instead of simply traveling parallel to the Harbour Bridge between Northcote Point & the north side of Westhaven?

          That seems like it would necessitate a deviation that would add a few minutes to the travel time. Which, remember, is added on top of the wait time at each wharf, and the time taken for boarding and disembarking at each end, and the time taken to ride from Westhaven to the central city.

          There’s no way that your option would be remotely close, in terms of travel time or convenience, to simply being able to ride all the way over the bridge.

        2. Yeah, there would have to be two breakwaters and probably year round dredging. That alone would cost more than the entire works to take a lane.

          Just liberate a lane, ffs.

        3. Sailor Boy please don’t swear because liberating a lane would be enough to change the Govt so its not going to happen. At least I have come up with an idea you and Matt are just whining because you can’t get your way.

        4. Accusing myself & Sailor Boy of “whining” instead of coming up with any rebuttals to our points… yeah, nah.

          Evidence shows that shuttle buses or ferries don’t really catch on. I have also repeatedly provided evidence that a ferry would take longer than cycling across the bridge.

          As far as I see it, the options are either:

          a) fast track a busway/light rail harbour bridge with walkways & cycleways, to be completed well before 2030.
          b) reallocate space on the existing Harbour Bridge for active modes, prior to a permanent mass transit/cycle bridge in the 2030s
          c) Build the Skypath to its original design.

          Improving the Northcote-Downtown ferry is something I would support, but in no way at all do I think that you can replace cycling continuously from Shore to City with transferring onto a bus, or a ferry, or a gondola.

        5. “Sailor Boy please don’t swear because liberating a lane would be enough to change the Govt so its not going to happen. At least I have come up with an idea you and Matt are just whining because you can’t get your way.”

          Pot, kettle, black much?

    3. Good to hear from somebody inside the tent.

      North shore cycleways are currently a disconnected mess. I live on the shore and during lockdown been doing a far bit of exploring via bicycle, taking advantage of less traffic.

      The Northern Corridor Improvement project is a huge expensive roading/PT project that impacts on my work commute. I tried to figure out what cycle improvements have been made as would like to cycle to work.

      Nice big active mode bridge on Spencer Road that looks good, but not connected at all. No signage or wayfinding from East Coast Bays, but if you use Google maps like I did, you can find it and have to risk cycling Spencer road.

      I almost died this weekend with an SUV coming at speed through Spencer Road / McClymonts roundabout,

      https://www.google.com/maps/@-36.7264334,174.7173103,3a,75y,220.72h,74t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1skEtPwC8GWlB-TGtb5d55Rw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

      then you come off the bridge and the cycleway just ends on the (high speed traffic) Corinthian Dr. But actually continues on over the road if you look carefully, before dumping you in high traffic areas with large roundabouts. Same as the nice new cycle bridge over the motorway at Northcote. There is a narrow footpath from the bridge to Smales farm, but not suitable for cycles. Why wouldn’t somebody spending millions on the bridge not think about that people might want to go to Smales farm or schools?

      I have to assume that anybody involved with these projects never actually talks to the users afterwords, or are happy to note that nobody uses the facilities without considering why.

      I have raised complaints to Auckland council about the most dangerous to cycle intersection (Upper Harbour Drive & Albany Highway), but so frustrating to see lots of almost good infrastructure ruined by small amounts of missing connectivity.

      My usual route is Milford to Devonport to ferry across, but have not taken the ferry over L3/L4 to remain close to home. Been waiting on Skypath for more years than I can remember. Pretty depressing to see this failure

  16. “I fear they’ve been presented with an option that extremely expensive”: I don’t see how they could. They took the cut and cover off the table, so it would have to be tunnels. We know just the city section will be around $5 billion as it would almost be a parallel CRL (and prices have gone up since then!). As for going under the length of Dominion Road, surely that would be at least another $5 billion. Then add in the other half of the route to the airport (including more undergrounding at Onehunga and Mangere?) and that is another $3 billion at least, and then there is rolling stock etc. The only possible justification I could see for ~$15 billion or so is if they then carry it on to the North Shore (I just can’t picture North Shore light running above ground on Queen Street for some reason).

    1. Light rail systems in Caligary, Portland, Manchester, Birmingham, and probably a few more cities run on-street or on transit malls through their respective CBDs, with longer stretches of dedicated right-of-way once out of the central city.

      I don’t think North Shore light rail would be unable to work running along Queen St, given that it would have an uninterrupted separate corridor from Wynyard Quarter all the way to Albany/Hibiscus Coast.

      Yes, light metro would be cool and all, and I understand some of the reasons behind it for a North Shore line, but given the expense and the small benefits of LM over LRT, I think light rail will be appropriate.

  17. Labour are to blame here. Transport is a massive portfolio and giving it as a little bit part for Housing and now Labour ministers is a terrible approach.

  18. I too thought Waka Katahi was devious in announcing the bike only crossing and thought at the time it was mean of them.
    Surveys show there is good support for bikeways in Auckland and also a new harbour crossing.
    But the costs, options and benefits need to be put more clearly. Aucklanders will support good logic and clear answers.
    We need a new harbour crossing at reasonable cost that will result in best returns.
    I support Portland type bridge for PT and pedestrians because it is acceptable cost and least disruption.
    It will allow the existing harbour bridge to carry more cars and trucks.
    A road tunnel would be highly expensive and would be a nightmare connecting it at the city. It would take many years of disruption to construct.
    I doubt Waka Kotahi has the audacity to anounce a $15 billion car and rail tunnel when a $1.5 billion bridge will be more professional.

  19. The Minister was the one stopping discussions on the issues with the original design and ideas for the separate bridge. He was also the one to want a grand announcement. However Bike Auckland knew all this as did other key stakeholders.
    Only one person from Bike Auckland was shut out due to their bullying. They just chose not to share this with the rest of Bike Auckland.
    This blog has flip flopped in support of the project as has Bike Auckland.

    1. Thanks for the info insider.
      Overall this sounds like quite the mess

      “ The Minister was the one stopping discussions on the issues with the original design and ideas for the separate bridge”
      As in the minister stopped public ‘discussions’ ie all the info from reaching the public? Or stopped internal discussions within the team about how to solve the issues presented?
      Could you give more specifics?

      “ He was also the one to want a grand announcement”

      Did he think the project would be well received by the public?

      1. >Did he think the project would be well received by the public?

        Charitably I might presume that, since there was very little fuss over the Roads of National Party Importance, the minister assumed that there would not be significant backlash to overwrought and over-expensive active mode or mass transit proposals. Else it’s the usual “politician ego” thing.

      2. No information to go public.
        You would have to ask the Minister his reasoning, but perhaps question why he didn’t want to consider route protecting Mill Road for rapid transit in the future.
        The bully from Bike Auckland is losing their power to sway Ministers and lashes out. Sadly they also lie and manipulate Bike Auckland members.

        1. Imagine thinking that Bike Auckland EVER had any sway over Ministers. Look at Auckland. It’s a veritable Amsterdam of the South, isn’t it; the sign of incredible levels of investment in cycling resulting from that sway that BA had over the Minister.

          No, it isn’t.

          And why not? Well because there’s never been any “sway” from BA or any other group representing the community. Instead, Waka Kotahi is heavily influenced by the motoring lobby. Thus, “Insiders” are focused on road building instead of on creating a balanced network with safe cycling.

          Case in point: “Route protecting Mill Rd for rapid transit” is not required. There is already a rapid transit corridor. It’s called the rail line. So Mill Rd is not required for rapid transit. If we need more, we add more rail lines. If we need more than that, we simply reallocate lanes on the motorway, which will help with the required vkt reduction.

          Route Protection is simply how WK’s highway engineers manage to keep projects humming along even when they should be taken off the books completely.

          You have exposed your deep misconceptions, resistance to change, and poor values, now stop throwing abuse.

        2. “Route protection” – huh, that makes sense. Virtue-signalling that they “will put rapid transit along this corridor at some point” so they can get the road built now, and thus shut out quality mass transit/active mode opportunities.

        3. Imagine being so out of touch that you think anyone in Bike Auckland can bully or sway ministers.

    2. Waka Kotahi had already moved away from the pier-supported design, and onto the active mode bridge – when they encouraged Bike Auckland to front the public about the earlier design.

      Waka Kotahi lied to Bike Auckland to achieve this.

      What followed when Bike Auckland discovered the truth was unlikely to be bullying, but pure and well-deserved outrage.

      The really poor behaviour is from the Waka Kotahi CEO and Board Chair.

      These two have allowed Waka Kotahi to continue to dole out an unbalanced programme of road building, haven’t recognised the powerful manipulation of the business case processes for what it is, haven’t implemented the sustainable vision they purport to support, and have served the Ministers of the Crown very poorly.

      Both need to go.

      1. Waka Kotahi staff need to see that the organisation’s failure to provide a safe transport system – the organisation’s core job – is bullying.

        Bullying is what WK is doing to the next generations: ruining their health, stripping them of options, and saddling them with enormous debt.
        Bullying is what WK is doing to the people wanting to travel sustainably: limiting their options, polluting their air, stunting their development (for the children), causing ill health.
        Bullying is what WK is doing by covering up what the climate science says we must do – which is to almost completely decarbonise our transport by 2030.

        I would hate to see staff being bullied, and hope it is not true. I would also hate to see staff allowed to ignore their codes of ethics.

        Meanwhile, outrage is a valid expression of grassroots sentiment.

        1. “They refused to shut up when lied to” = “Bullying Bike Auckland”

          “They didn’t cheer loudly enough when offered, without advance notice, what they suspected was unrealistic but glitzy cycle project” = “Bike Auckland has flip flopped”.

  20. This government are guilty of money laundering….. how many times has this same money been “spent”? …. Kiwi build. No. Light rail. No. Mental health services. No. Cycle bridge. No.
    Only one of those is of any real concern though. The rest were always doomed to fail.

    1. …pretty sure that’s not how economics work mate.

      All of these projects are necessary. More housing stock is needed. Light rail is needed. Better-funded healthcare is needed. More cycle infrastructure is needed.

      It is a travesty that the government cannot/refuses to deliver these appropriately, and I believe it’s a result of a neoliberal “moderate for the sake of being moderate” mentality & compromising on what should have been a good progressive platform.

  21. Still the money is being spent on the much needed “Eastern Cycleway” and pushing on with Eastern Busway, so not a total fiasco. Just a pity the Reeves Rd flyover hasn’t been dumped along with the cycle bridge.

  22. A shuttle bus for cyclists would be quicker, more scalable and cheaper than a ferry.
    On city side pickup/dropoff stop could be on Curren Street.
    On the northern side, on side of northern busway once sea path is there. Or Akoranga until sea path done.

    1. That’s been tried though, several times over the past few decades, and I don’t think those shuttle buses ever attracted enough patronage to stick around. The anti-bike voices claim that’s because “no-one wants to cycle”, but I believe it’s that cyclists want to ride all the way across the harbour continuously, not stop and wait for a ferry or shuttle bus.

      If we’re talking making it easier for cyclists to use buses, I’d say build an Onewa Rd bus station, change the seating on Northern Express buses to make more internal room for bikes (or install external bike racks) – in other words accommodate bikes & cyclists better on existing bus services.

      But I still support the interim solution of liberating a lane or two, prior to a dedicated active mode + light rail AWHC bridge.

      1. “cyclists want to ride all the way across the harbour continuously, not stop and wait for a ferry or shuttle bus”
        So what? I am sure all PT users would like a bus stop outside their house and a bus waiting for them when they want it.
        So why are cyclists so special that they have no wait? (and I am sure want it for free)
        As for liberating a lane(s), that has also been ruled out and would be even less popular than the cycle bridge idea.

        1. You can’t compare wanting an active mode link where none currently exists to wanting bus stops outside every house. That’s a blatant strawman argument.

          Walking and cycling are key active modes, and thus important in increasing walkability, combating congestion, improving urban landscape, and reducing transport emissions. A huge proportion of car trips in NZ are over short distances (33% of drives are less than 2km) that able bodied people would feasibly be able to walk or cycle. From Northcote & Birkenhead to the Auckland CBD would be within a half hour bike ride.

          Stop with the lies about cyclists “wanting everything for free”. Any active mode crossing would be paid for fairly. It would also be an investment in reducing congestion and thus making it easier for vehicle users to get around too.

          I do not believe NZTA has given adequate consideration to liberating a lane permanently. They are a heavily car-biased organization. Based on what Chris Darby and Michael Wood have said publicly a summer trial of a liberated lane still seems to be going ahead.

        2. “As for liberating a lane(s), that has also been ruled out”

          No it hasn’t. It’s completely feasible.

          “So why are cyclists so special that they have no wait? ”
          Cyclists expect a similar treatment to motorists. Motorists would never accept a minimum 10 minute wait to drive onto the bridge all day every day.

        3. “Motorists would never accept a minimum 10 minute wait to drive onto the bridge all day every day.”

          If cyclists want the same rights as motorists then they’re going to have to accept a journey that could be made in ten minutes sometimes takes an hour.

        4. @Buttwizard That is a very poor, individualistic argument. Why this obsession about the “rights” of cyclists vs the “rights” of drivers? Why antagonize cyclists as if they’re the bad guys for wanting easier-to-use, safer infrastructure instead of dangerous road-sharing or nothing at all?

        5. That sounds great, a transport system so attractive for cycling, with so little provision for any other form of travel, that too many people cycle and they end up holding each other up.

        6. Matt Bear: I’m not the one who bought motorists into this. Someone said that motorists wouldn’t tolerate waiting to use the bridge – but that’s literally what congestion does most normal peak times.

          I agree with the need for a proper walking/cycling/PT bridge.

        7. Yes but that’s created by the mode. Driving’s inherent space requirements creates the hold up.

          The mode of cycling doesn’t create any similar hold up. Only poor infrastructure investment decisions do.

        8. Yes, but building a bridge worth hundreds of millions that isn’t fit for the region’s needs just so one group of commuters don’t have to, say, get on and off a ferry (despite tens of thousands of commuters getting of buses and into trains every single day) is a dumb use of money, especially when it’s only really being proposed to lock in the need for billions of dollars of tunnels at a later date.

          At some point the bridge becomes bad value for money, and that point is much much less than $750m+.

        9. They should be spending $7.4 billion on walking and cycling over the next decade, as you know.

          Here’s what that would build: https://twitter.com/wernerp88/status/1444190033703931907

          And that’s using AT’s OUTRAGEOUS per km cycling costs, when in fact they would drop quickly once we get the obstructionists out of the way.

          The $685 m for this link is not, therefore, a poor use of money – as it is a critical link in the network that would be created. Furthermore, I doubt they’d get too far down the road without deciding to add in the public transport link…

          This project was probably the fastest route to that happening.

          Whereas all of the road widening and building projects are a poor use of money, because all they’ll do is induce traffic, increase maintenance burden and keep us car dependent.

        10. “The $685 m for this link is not, therefore, a poor use of money”

          When you could spend an extra $1 – $2b and get a rapid transit connection, spending $685m and getting a walking and cycling only bridge is indefensibly poor value, doubly so when it will lock in the need for tunnels at a cost of tens of billions of dollars.

          It also makes me seriously question the sincerity of anyone who would suggest it isn’t – is it about spending the money to get the best possible outcome, or is it about spending the money on something you personally would stand to benefit from regardless of value or consequence?

        11. If you want the -advantages- of cycling to work, you can’t simply combine it with the -disadvantages- of PT, and then argue that any cyclists who don’t take up your jury-rigged combination are ungrateful.

        12. Buttwizard, I have laid my case out plainly:

          $37 billion on transport in the next decade for Auckland is a tonne of money. Reallocated properly to what we need – active and public transport, with vkt reduction at its heart – we would have a fantastic system.

          The more active and public transport, the cheaper the system overall, as car ownership can drop considerably, safety would go up, and maintenance costs would drop too.

          A new active mode bridge would be part of this. It does not “lock in the need for tunnels at a cost of tens of billions of dollars” – there is no need for that tunnel; it is a myth.

          If it does need to include public transport, they would have decided pretty quickly that this is the case once it was underway. I cannot make the call as to whether it does or not. I don’t know, because no one has done unbiased, climate-ready work to find out whether light rail will work on the inner spans of the existing bridge. I believe this idea was dismissed out of hand prior to understanding about the need to reduce lanes in order to reduce vkt.

  23. We at least we have the busway getting a move along. This shouldn’t of been slowed up anyway when other road only projects were given a boost. The panmure to GI cycleway will be welcome too, especially as near me too 🙂

    Yes totally agree that there is a lack of proper quality public debate on the crossing and related subjects . Pretty hopeless.

  24. I’m not surprized this happened. Both 0.7B and 15B are the cost of beautiful Auckland landscape. This would be possible to build entire new city on flats somewhere near Morrinsville and Matamata at 15B cost.

    1. And what would the unseen costs of that be, in terms of lost farmland/native ecosystems, water pollution, etc? Particularly if your new city still gets built to a car-centric design – additional congestion & air pollution costs.

      I’m not saying that spreading population growth out to regional centres and away from Auckland wouldn’t be a good idea – but at the expense of infrastructure that Auckland sorely does need? That’s a bad-faith argument.

      1. I wouldn’t be surprised either if that happened, particularly if Labour will acquire dictatorship mandate. “Look we built entire new city! We’re cooler than liberals!”.

  25. Based on this I predict for Dominion Light rail the proposal will come out $250Million stations with free message chairs and free coffee. Then everyone can criticise it as a bad idea!

    1. They won’t need to do that. They’ll just need to pick underground light metro, and pretend that the excessive cost of tunneling from Wynyard to Onehunga will be worth a trip less than 5 minutes faster and with only 33% greater passenger-carrying capacity than surface light rail.

  26. Continuing the long tradition of this government of not delivering promised projects.
    Is it time for more significant protests?

  27. Everyone should know well before now that Ardern and her mob are phoneys, pretend socialists.
    They talk a good talk but they are effectively Tories in drag.
    Transformation, my ass!

    1. Agree. Unless they somehow actually do something with light rail they will go down as the government that has done the least for PT in Auckland this century.

      1. Such promise too. Not enough bottle to axe highway funding, but also unable to bring institutional change enough to change the projects that are chosen.

    2. Jacinda was the President of the International Union of Socialist Youth. I don’t think you can call her pretend.

    3. This has nothing to do with socialism, it’s about sensible planning decisions.

      I’m a National/Act voter and I don’t want to see a single cent spent on new roads.

      Cycling and PT are the future, not part of culture wars.

      1. Unfortunately I think transport modes and urban design have long been part of the left/right “culture war”.

  28. Waka Kotahi needs to be renamed the National Roads Board, to better reflect it’s political patronage and be placed just as an implimentation agency under a completly new “all of transport” authority. A new truely all embracing authority tasked with achieving better transport outcomes, with better health outcomes, lower emissions, and better using the massive amounts of land currently wastefully employed to move and store motor vehicles. This Authority should be tasked with provisioning for all transport, recreation, needs, passive and active, using the current national road corridor in the public domain, as well as air rail and water transport alternatives.

  29. You mean worsening traffic, no freedom of choice for those who do want to walk or cycle, and the accelerating climate crisis? Yeah, nah. Some of us actually want those things to get better, not worse.

    AWHC will be needed in some form by the 2030s-early 2040s (when the Northern Busway reaches capacity and requires conversion to light rail). There’s an opportunity for a permanent solution there – a new bridge for rail, walking & cycling.

    In the meantime liberating the lane remains an option, and it’s only the stubborn pro-car bias of NZTA and the “don’t rock the boat” status quo mindset of the Government holding things back.

  30. I just read all the comments.
    Good work team.
    But we are back to where we were 10 years ago. The only change seems to be the climate emergency, and eBikes.

  31. How dare you question the numbers! We all know the North Shore is different…. Of course there will be double the NW cycleway’s best ever count every day……

  32. As I suspected Twyford 2.0. But ultimately it’s probably government problem. They just don’t wanna do any of those projects. No crossings and no light rail.

    I’m amazed by people who called to scrap it and dedicate the lane while knowing perfectly well there is no chance for that. I guess everyone is happy now with nothing.

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