While a lot of the attention is on the big flashy projects, one thing that often gets overlooked is the potential for a programme of smaller projects improving connections between our suburbs.

I’ve been particularly thinking about this since the discussion about changes to the Eastern Busway last year and Heidi’s post last week on East Tamaki reminded me to get on with this post.

To start, let’s take a look at Burswood and the areas surrounding it. The residents of Burswood essentially live on an island, cut off from North, West and much of the East by the Pakuranga Creek and cut off from the industrial area to the south by the pseudo-motorway that is Ti Rakau Dr – something that won’t be made any easier based on the most recent plans for the Eastern Busway.

Thinking about a couple of potential trips as examples:

  • A parent wanting to get their child to Riverhills School or to visit friends to the Northeast of Burswood would almost certainly drive them there than brave Ti Rakau Dr
  • Someone working in the small industrial area just to the north of Burswood could potentially live less than 100m away from their workplace but be over 3km away by bike or over 5km by car away.

In both cases, this helps to add both vehicle trips and unnecessary emissions. Trips like these are also not the kinds of ones that are going to be impacted by big infrastructure projects like the Eastern Busway.

With around half of all our trips in Auckland already being under 5km, there is a huge opportunity to get many of these converted to a non-car modes if we can make it easy and safe.

Imagine then if we could connect up Burswood to the surrounding area by way of a few bridges.

The Local board does have plans to walking and cycling bridge from Burswood to the west and it was even included in a list of their priority projects in their 2018 Walking and Cycling network, with of course it being subject to funding – the path from Elm Park School down to Riverhills Park was estimated at the time at $1.35 million but the bridge was not costed and saying it “requires a formal feasibility study

Additional funding for local projects like these would obviously help and I’m sure there is a heap of projects that will be both easier and important to deliver before even getting into the discussion of bridges. But gaps in connections between suburbs due to waterways like this are writ large all over Auckland but particularly in the East, West and North.

One of the problems with delivery for projects like bridges particularly is that almost certainly each bridge is treated as a bespoke project. But that got me thinking, what could a programme to deliver a large number of active mode bridges all across the region using a shared but simple modular design and the same group of contractors achieve. Could that bring down the per-bridge delivery costs by any notable amount and help in making these bridges more viable?

This brings me to the questions for our readers:

  • If we did have such a programme, where are the locations you think could be good candidates for such an approach (and no, not the Harbour Crossing).
  • For the GIS wizards out there, within the Auckland urban area, what location/s have a short direct line distance between each other but have the longest distance between them via the road/pathway network – it’s also not just waterways that create barriers, sometimes it’s just the poor layout of the street network that prevents easy connections between areas. Effectively it would be interesting to come up with a list of the areas most in need of new connections.
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  1. Burswood is a good example – the Local Board have put in a walking/cycling bridge from Kenwick Place (Eastern Burswood) to Corta Bella Place in Golflands, which has been extremely popular. I hoped this would provide encouragement to do more, sooner but funding always seems to be a roadblock. So we still lack a connected network which reduces the effectiveness of this single bridge.

    As you say, taking a more regional approach should make it cheaper and faster, delivering a connected network much quicker. Very keen to see this happen!

  2. The Panmure Basin one way footbridge , also directly on the new Eastern Busway is in desperate need of an upgrade. It was built in 1985 and is very narrow <1m wide and feels very unsafe from a personal security point of view . It's an obvious link to Carbine road industrial area and Sylvia Park via Watene rd. Which begs another obvious cycle path route- Waipuna Road is very wide and has very light traffic since the South Eastern motorway was built. Sylvia Park ,Carbine road and Penrose have heavy workplace traffic from the eastern suburbs and are all within 5km of the new Eastern busway path for an easy cycle.

  3. Paul Arthur from Franklin Trails is trying to get watercare to build a bridge as part of their Awhitu/Clarks beach wastewater plant works. Would connect up Glenbrook beach, Waiau Beach and Clarks Beach communities and link in to the mooted tahiki trail.

  4. There’s a surprising number of cut-throughs at the end of cul-de-sacs in the Eastern Suburbs like Glendowie which allow school kids near-total mobility when combined with parks etc.

    As for coastal pathways and bridges, the Hobsonville Pt pathway is a great example of how a shared path can be a place-making asset. It connects with dog parks and the restaurants down by the ferry terminal. I’d hope we’re allowing for similar when we do coastal suburbs and redevelopment in other parts of the city e.g. Pt England.

  5. The obvious contenders would be bridges on the Whau and Tamaki Rivers. There are multiple sites that look promising. Also from Te Atatu Peninsula to Massey and / or West Harbour. Although I just noticed that according to Google Maps the Peninsula extends about another 400 metres into the harbour

    1. I dream of a bridge connection between Te Atatu Peninsula and Massey, such a Wharf Rd or Taikata Rd connecting to Colwill Rd. They’d open up fantastic walking, running and cycling routes from West Harbour through Massey to the peninsula. There are already some lovely little connectors in the area and this is a missing link. It’d shave an hour or more off walking times between two suburbs.

  6. A bridge across Te Mahia creek from Waiata shores (Conifer Grove) to the back of Holmes Rd Manurewa would turn the Southern motorway path into a very long off road walk or ride. Connecting the Wattle downs path to the ConiferGrove area. People in Wattle downs could ride to work in Takanini or Papakura completely off road.

    1. Yes, this would also make it safer for Wattle Downs and Weymouth residents to get to the under-used train station in Te Mahia.

    2. https://imgur.com/a/Kil2tEX

      That’s the bit you mean, right?

      In any case, they really need to have a bridge going over the motorway from the Southern Path to Longford Park… probably formalising the grassy area there into an actual continuous path. Obviously getting up and over the motorway will require a more bespoke solution than the subject of this post, though.

    3. Papakura Stream appears not to have any crossings in the southernmost 1.2km. Would be a short-cut between Wattle Downs and Takanini

  7. A cycle/pedestrian path from the western end of the Upper Harbour Bridge going under that bridge and joining the Hobsonville Point walkway somewhere north of near Airmans Lane. The centre of Greenhithe to the Hobsonville Point ferry wharf is about 1500m but takes over 20 minutes on a bike because you have to ride all the way to Squadron Drive and back again. (an extra 4km) https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Greenhithe+Village+Store,+8+Greenhithe+Road,+Greenhithe,+Auckland+0632/Hobsonville+Point+Ferry+Wharf,+Hobsonville,+Auckland+0618/@-36.7845498,174.6629201,3256m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x6d0d3ec18aead8df:0x24e7f76c2553753a!2m2!1d174.6699864!2d-36.7756359!1m5!1m1!1s0x6d0d3edef7701681:0xf050f19ff9a615bd!2m2!1d174.67165!2d-36.78863!3e1

      1. The bridge already has a cycle lane on it. All it needs is a connection from that cycle lane across to the point. A connection under the bridge and a small bridge across some mangroves (that didn’t exist until recently). It would also improve cycling for Hobsonville Point residents who might want to use the existing Upper Harbour Drive cycle lanes.

        1. I’m guessing… more business cases? And probably it’ll need a new wharf each side. Those will probably need to fix some erosion problems, probably be the base of some community-wide communications infrastructure. And you’d have to have an extensive carpark, probably with toilets and showers to accommodate freedom campers. So the local water and wastewater pipes will need replacing.

          Plus the local roads will need to be made bike friendly. Which will mean asphalt – chipseal would only be put in otherwise – and some new drains. Wider community benefits, you see.

        2. Funny thing, was that I was just thinking about that recently.

          Cycling out of Hobsonsville Point, back around and over the motorway to Upper Harbour drive and getting over to the shore is a bit of a detour. Yet it’s only 500m across the water to Beach Haven or the park under the Upper Harbour bridge on the shore side.

          I remember thinking the same thing when cycling from Stanmore Bay to the North Shore – if I could just cycle across the Weti river to Stillwater, then would knock a lot of distance through Silverdale

          I wonder if technology could provide an answer these days. Like having the water version of a Lime scooter or Uber ebike hire; a set of pedal boats with e-bike style pedal assist that could be hired via an app to get an cyclist across short bits of waterways like this. Ideally with the boat geofenced by the app and able to be called to return from the otherside unmanned

          Turns out there are the odd ebike pedal assist boats available in NZ (https://www.flying-cat.co.nz/ceclo-nz) or you can buy them from China for US$1000

          I could imagine all the H&S concerns which would sink this as an idea, but would be a lot cheaper than a bridge or large manned ferry for the 500m ad-hoc trip

  8. The Whau river has two crossing, about 4km apart. A river crossing at Archibald park (or Hepburn park), would be very complementary to Te Whau path (potentially more useful). With a bit of extra work (bike ways pedestrian crossings), would have create a reasonably direct connection for a lot of west to Waterview shared path.

    The issue almost instantly becomes cost, the funded Te Whau part two, is spending millions to cross the Whau river, within 50 meters of another bridge.

    1. Yeah I agree, the Whau pathway is a crosstown link essentially. A crossing at the end of Hepburn road over towards the west end rowing club (looks to be a narrow point of Whau) would definitely reduce the distance to town for anyone coming from Glen eden, Te Atatu, Glendene ,Sunnyvale etc . From there it would just be a matter of negotiating the busy industrial streets of Rosebank to get to the NW cycleway…And I think Heidi started looking at that in a recent post.

      1. yeah I agree. I really want to get to NW cycleway from the Glendene, Sunnyvale, Glen Eden area toward the CBD. To cycle on the Great North Road Rata/Ash St to the NW cycleway is not safe on a bike. To cycle on a cycleway by the Waikumete Stream toward the NW cycle is quite a long detour, esp lot of twisting path in this area.

        1. Yes, I live around the same area. It’s so awful trying to get to the north Western. Te Whau and New Lynn to Avondale, when complete are both going to be significant long cuts. And even then still if you are in Glendene, Sunnyvale, Glen Eden, you still get kilometres of awful indirect riding just to take the long cut.

      2. I live less than 2 km from Te Whau path and I am set to directly benefit, but the project is insane. It’s going to have sub 1000 daily users when complete, that going cost probably 100 million more after 35 million has paid for 1.9km. This when all of west Auckland has had more or less zero on road bike infrastructure built since the consultation.

        The reason I think Archibald park is the crossing point is it’s residential into residential. Rosebank and Kelson residential roads are fine to bike on. Also on the west side, the cemetery kinda bridges the bikeableness to the bike infrastructure at Sunnyvale.

        1. So suppose it goes across between Archibald and Avondale west reserve…It looks like maybe one more bridge would be beneficial to connect Avondale/Rosebank with Waterview – across from the end of Eastdale Road to Fairlands Reserve and then trickle through residential streets from there to the Oakley Creek bridge or Waterview cycleway.

          Yeah I’d probably use that 🙂

  9. This is a great idea Matt. There are plenty of locations in East Auckland where a gap has clearly been left for a future bridge, but where one has not been provided (presumably due to funding). Once again, the moral of the story is: Build infrastructure first.

    Perhaps the best benefit cost ratio of any location is in south Auckland. Think of the connectivity benefits from one or more crossings of the Papakura Stream from Mahia Park/Wattle Downs to Waita Shores.

    The river is only about 4 metres wide and there are pretty decent foot/cycle networks on both sides, yet to get from one side of the Papakura Stream to the other a person will need to travel all the way to Great South Road.

    This should absolutely be part of any programme of local foot and cycling bridges.

    1. At the moment you can get around the connection by cycling past the dairy and car yards on mahia rd corner. Then going left into Holmes Rd but…It’s a poxy industrial ride with no Clearwater for cyclists and your fighting the car yards etc. OK on a quiet Sunday but shit during rush hour.

    2. And further upstream, a crossing from Takanini School Rd to the reserves on the Manurewa banks of the Papakura stream. Connects industrial areas with residental.

    3. How many existing pipeline/services bridges are potentially pathable?

      This one at Puhinui Reserve has a deck right across and a landing on the reserve side, but the path connection and landing from Kiwi Tamaki Road never eventuated.

      -37.020023362259764, 174.84649658766475 on Google Maps

      It would make the reserve accessible on foot from the Browns Road and Clendon Park residential area.

      Current access is on Aerovista Place, 2.5 kms up Roscommon Road, full of trucks and without a footpath in places.

      You’d also get an off-road shortcut towards the airport via Prices Road, cutting out Roscommon Road and the motorway dominated end of Puhinui Road.

    4. Totally agree, the Manurewa Local Board have been trying to work on a crossing of the Papakura Stream from Wattle Downs to Waiata Shores for a while now. The Stream is a significant barrier to walkability in the Manurewa/Takanini area.

  10. I am drafting up a Reddit post on something similar.

    My commute via car from Birkenhead to Rosedale/Albany industrial area goes through all the traffic lights, and while I have the motorbike as an option, been exploring using the bicycle.

    There is some excellent, high quality safe and scenic cycle paths that go from Sunset Road to Paul Matthews Road via Rook Place, under the Upper Harbour motorway. It runs alongside the Alexandra stream for a bit so very pleasant summer ride. You can sprint across Paul Matthews road and continue safely through Rosedale Park right through to Albany & Massey University campus.

    If you lived in the residential areas like Unsworth or around Sunset Road, and worked in Rosedale, this path is fastest way to get to work – at least downhill in the morning.

    It’s just not quite all connected up; so to join the cycle path, I have to brave Glenfield road with 4-5 lanes of fast moving traffic at times

  11. Great idea. Another useful application of such a programme would be bridging motorways and train tracks. This is not necessarily as easy as waterways as the bridges need decent clearance under them for vehicles while still being accessible to cyclists and the mobility impaired (so ramps needed rather than stairs). The benefits in denser areas could be considerable though.

    1. Yes, agree. Most of the state highway improvements budget should be being spent on this, to improve the outcomes for society near the state highways.

  12. Is there a place to access the list of local board projects.

    I’m sure I can find time to build the shapefile and associated layer files to visualise them, to hold all of the projects that we’re talking about. (For those that don’t speak GIS, the shapefile holds the spatially referenced data, with the layer files providing the the visualisation of the data or the things that go into the legend of a map)

    1. This could be a good project to get going, could be a way for users to show AC/AT where the connections should be rather than them trying to figure it out from first principles.

      Kind of like digital Desire Paths.

    2. Not an easy solution for you Nik but on council website under local boards the plans are all listed. Most Lbs have a section based around transport/ sustainability or walking and cycling etc which is essentially a wish list – would be really interesting to see how many of the things that the LBs want ever get delivered.

  13. My pet wish is a bridge from Wharf Rd, Te Atatū Peninsula to Colwill Rd, Massey East. It’s approx 350m across Henderson Creek (granted, it would be a tricky bridge to build) but otherwise it’s 8.5km.

    1. Also Taipari Strand to Selwood Road, thus onward to The Concourse, Lincoln Road, Central Park Drive or the NW Cycleway. A powerful link for active commutes!

      1. Or from Taipari Park to Taitapu Park, somehow. More pleasant than passing the dump, and still connects to the NW. Bring on the Tai Bridge 😉

    2. Hear, hear! I posted a nearly identical comment above. A bridge here would hugely improve walking and cycling options for both sides and link in to the walkways all the way through to West Harbour.

  14. A couple near the airport:

    Crossing George Bolt Memorial Drive around where Montgomirie Rd is cut in two might be good. This is near where some of the proposed rail stations are. Might be worth doing anyway in anticipation to start people getting into the pattern.

    Nearby there is also the crossing of Oruarangi Creek between Waipouri Rd and Pavilion Drive. Not a lot of people but the area is adding businesses.

  15. Meadowbank Station could do with a bridge to the north going over Purewa Creek and then a path up the hill to Kepa Road.

    1. I like your thinking.

      Could call it Skypath and give it a $100m budget

      Or maybe give it to Waka Kotahi and a $1b should do it.

      Makes me wonder; a private enterprise could not clip onto the bridge, but could any company just issue a couple an RFP worldwide for a lightweight active mode bridge from seapath to Westhaven? Maybe a second RFP for an alternative design that has bus or light rail links as well.

      Would be interesting if one of the big infrastructure companies came back and said they could commit to do it for $nnn million. Why do we have to trust WK estimates and not what a firm thinks they could do it for (potentially these days, pre-fabricated construction from China or South Korean shipped over and assembled.

  16. I guess the biggest barrier is the lack of any gaps between properties where you can connect your new bridge to the street.

    If you want to look for existing pedestrian connections OpenStreetMap tends to be more complete than Google Maps.

    There is also the case of building a bridge over a river and then not connecting it to the streets on both sides in Birkdale, where you can’t walk from Abbeygate Street to Verbena Road.

    1. I just looked at that area of Birkdale

      It’s only a ~100m walk from the end of the Abbeygate Street to Verbena ; if they had thought to put in a walkway.

      Google maps shows that to actually to do that walk, it would be 2.1km/30 minutes or just over 20x the distance as you have to follow a street layout designed for cars.

      Must be a bunch of places like that where just connecting up a few streets with walkways would make it easier to walk than to drive

  17. I thought it was mad not to connect the new path along the Southern Motorway to Longford Park, as that would provide a direct connection to Takanini.

    1. It wouldn’t be difficult to build an overbridge here and I agree it would be a useful connection to an increasingly well-used path.

  18. Don’t get me started. There is zero connectivity for bicycles in auckland other than the CBD. Also walking next to the busy roads is unpleasantant. For 2 years I cycled from Mt richmond to penrose via great south road. It was awful, and in hindsight bloody dangerous. The journey would have been a lot safer if there was a rail bridge from Bell Ave to Hugo Johnston drive. This would allow me to take less busy roads to get to penrose or onehunga. I think it would make sense to eventually have a continuous loop from the Manukau foreshore walkway to Mangere and lots of access ways to reach the loop. It would be a nice bike ride once the mangere bridge is complete! In general cycling is unsafe in this car centric city. Something needs to change, and making small regional changes makes more sense than the big projects that dont help anyone get to work safely

      1. Before Southdown Station closed in 2004 the station overbridge provided a very useful connection between Southdown Lane and Hugo Johnston Drive. Reinstating it, or providing one via Bell Ave is an excellent idea.

  19. “With around half of all our trips in Auckland already being under 5km, there is a huge opportunity to get many of these converted to a non-car modes if we can make it easy and safe.”

    Busways, light rail, heavy rail extensions, congestion charges etc – all important. But those small trips are the low hanging fruit if we want to deal with emissions, congestion etc.

    Isn’t there a cycling budget (1:1 with central government) we could use to roll these out? Unspent fuel tax money lying around too?

  20. this sounds like “ministry of works” stuff
    Standard bridge 10m 15m 20m modules. Precertified to requirements
    Factories making lego bridge modules in advance of project requirements.
    Standard Ends to receive the standard bridge modules.
    Once again – the engineering is easypeasy – its the 2yrs of resource consent that makes connecting a community unfun.
    Hand this over to community groups with a Single point of Contact into Council/CCO and watch this space explode.

  21. Council/AT/WK all love to add in artistic/Maori designs and features into their projects.
    In reality this should only be considered in highly visible projects where the appearance affects the surrounding areas. Even then it should generally be whatever is satisfactory for the lower end of the pricing scale. Otherwise we should be building for practically/quality and cost, anything else is purely a waste of valuable/scarce funding and unnecessary.

    I like the idea of standardised bridges, the same should apply to a lot of other things too.

    1. Your drive for high practicality/quality and low cost is good, but that doesn’t preclude beautiful design, nor input from Maori or the community involvement. In a well-run process, beauty isn’t where the costs mount up, and society reaps many social and economic rewards for paying attention to them. Maori will absolutely need to be involved early on in the establishment of the programme, because bridging over waterways has an effect on the environment, and because Maori stand to gain so much from good active travel connections. Genuine, early engagement is the best way forward.

      We’d need several standardised designs as there will be several different sets of geometries to design for, and these can incorporate different artistic and Maori designs into them.

      1. Surely we would just want one standardised design which is designed to have decorative panels attached. Then we can separate out the structural design from the aesthetic design. The bridge gets built and then the community can have input on aesthetics.

        1. +1 Sailorboy.
          Those things Heidi just said frankly are just nonsense. Does a bridge care if it’s a Maori or anyone else walking on it? No.
          It absolutely costs a lot more to add in cultural/beautification to these things. We’re talking hundreds of thousands extra for many of these projects. Granted it shouldn’t cost that *much* more but someone is clipping the ticket. Keep it simple and practical – doesn’t mean it needs to be ugly.

        2. I’m not saying that it has to cost a lot more to add those things, just that the current way we achieve that does.

          We absolutely should have architecture with strong design based on Maori culture. But a small pedestrian bridge doesn’t need to have that embedded into the structure. A new harbour bridge, Aotea station? Yep, make it structural and integral to the infrastructure; those are massive, bespoke, hallmark bits of architecture. We can’t afford that level of design at 500 small bridges around the city. We can afford panelling and facades with local motifs, information boards, etc.

    2. If you are worried about cost then the artwork would be well down the list.

      Plenty of things should face scrutiny before the icing on the cake, which would be a rounding error.

      1. It should be a rounding error, but it’s not. By the time you do consultations on the designs, get designers, reconsult, pay off iwi for their input, have someone else clip the ticket, actually build and install (then the inevitable there’s a lm issue with it/flaw that needs to be rectified) you’re adding a very significant amount of money to what should be a simple and cost effective footbridge.
        If iwi want fancy cultural extras then they should pay for it.

  22. Burswood will get no benefit from the Busway as the buses will not go through the local areas only to CBD. Families with children will be even less likely to walk to school as a few do now due to the areas involved in creating the busway making the walk more difficult. A bridge to Riverhills School will nit help as it is not a preferred school, most children go elsewhere. Locals in Pakuranga cannot get from there to Howick easily without bus transfer.

    The secrecy of decision making contributes to waste of funds and frustration for those impacted, as local knowledge of traffic flows are left out of final planning.

    1. > A bridge to Riverhills School will nit help as it is not a preferred school, most children go elsewhere

      That’s a terrible reason. School preference isn’t set in stone, it swings wildly. The appeal of being able to let your child walk to school would do a lot to tip the balance in favour of Riverhills.

    2. “Burswood will get no benefit from the Busway as the buses will not go through the local areas only to CBD”

      The busway goes in two directions but in neither one does it go to the CBD.

      1. And obviously people from Burswood never go to Pakuranga or Botany or any of the town centres close to train stations.

  23. “Burswood will get no benefit from the Busway as the buses will not go through the local areas only to CBD”

    and NIMBYs wonder why no one takes there ‘concerns’ seriously….

  24. I was astounded when I discovered AT had no current plans for the superb of Glen Eden In the next 10 years to connect it to its two closest town centres Henderson and New Lynn via cycleways. Despite this local board plan being over ten years old and the outcome allowing thousands of people access to the rest of the western network.

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