The Government is committed to the Northern Pathway with its preferred option being a separate structure for walking and cycling alongside the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today.
Geotechnical investigations and testing has determined that building a structure connected to the Auckland Harbour Bridge is not possible as the existing piers are not able to accommodate the extra weight without considerable modifications to counter balance the increased load involving additional risk to the bridge.
“The New Zealand Upgrade Programme (NZUP) is supporting our economic recovery, but due to COVID-19 increasing construction costs globally and the need to further reduce emissions, we’re rebalancing the programme to increase investment in rail, public transport and walking and cycling,” Michael Wood said.
“We need this transport connection to move ahead but it isn’t technically possible to attach it to the existing bridge without putting the whole structure at risk.
“A stand-alone structure is the safest option that will not only provide a walking and cycling option for commuters but creates an outstanding piece of tourism infrastructure.
“Major international cities all around the world have similar connections and we’ve all seen how well used the Te Ara I Whiti – Lightpath has become, with the Northern Pathway having the potential to be a bigger tourist drawcard.
“Northern Pathway is the missing link in Auckland’s walking and cycling network and Aucklanders finally will be able to get across the harbour by foot or bike – it’s important we get it right and make sure it’s an enduring piece of infrastructure, providing alternative modes of transport across the harbour and helping reduce congestion on our Auckland roads.
“In the meantime, Waka Kotahi will continue to work on how to provide safe temporary trials of using lanes on the existing harbour bridge for cyclists and pedestrians.
“Work is also continuing on planning for an additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing. An initial business case was finished last year, and work is being done on enhancing the Northern Busway and developing an additional crossing that includes rapid transit.
“Given the next crossing is likely to be a tunnel, it would be unsafe to have a walking and cycling link as part of it – that why we need to build the Northern Pathway.
“Auckland will not reach its potential without it.
“While the majority of projects will remain unchanged, further announcements on the other NZUP projects will be made alongside the Minister for Infrastructure later today,” Michael Wood said.