Experiments on Cowie Street Bridge, Newmarket

Dec 14, 2014
Experiments on Cowie Street Bridge, Newmarket

Bike Auckland

Cowie Street bridge from the north looking towards Newmarket. This shows Option 1.
Cowie Street bridge from the north looking towards Newmarket. This shows Option 1.

More bridge topics here (have you submitted on SkyPath yet?):

With the increasing number of trains in Auckland, AT and KiwiRail are preparing to remove the level crossing at Sarawia Street, north of Newmarket. This will speed up trains and make things safer – but it also means that a new rail overbridge has to be built.

Digression – ignore if the history is not of interest to you: The need for a bridge is due to some bad decisions when subdivision consents were granted long ago – as without a bridge, the little residential street of Laxton Terrace suddenly would lose all road access, despite ALMOST having a link at the other end, to Furneaux Way.

Apparently nobody in Council then insisted on a through road connection, and creating it now would be prohibitively costly / legally complex? Maybe the original  developers were worried about rat-running and wanted to be able to market houses as “on a quiet cul-de-sac”? They at least added a walking and cycling connection. That’s a big positive, but still – ratepayers are now paying for this lack of foresight.

Instead of preventing rat-running with some traffic calming back then and insisting on a through road in return, we now have to rebuild road access with some hefty costs for a new car-accessible bridge, instead of simply being able to close Sarawia directly and replacing it with a much simpler walk/cycle crossing.

The new crossing bridge was eventually decided to be at Cowie Street, after other options – some hotly sought after / opposed by locals – were decided against by Auckland Transport.

Auckland Transport is now consulting on the style of the new bridge. There’s three concepts (with the new section of Laxton Terrace proposed to be in the same style as the bridge):

  • Option 1: A two-lane road bridge, with a single shared path on the eastern side. Pretty standard. And with the future Greenways link through the Parnell Tunnel heading off the bridge just on the south side, a shared path here seems an okay choice.
  • Option 2: A two-lane road bridge, with a single footpath on the eastern side. A bit less convenient, but with the low traffic volumes on this road, still pretty okay – cyclists can ride on the road, as there won’t be a cycleway on Cowie Street anytime soon…
  • Option 3: A very experimental layout, too narrow to pass easily, with “passing pockets” created by protective buffers. There’s no separate footpaths or cycleways at all. On the one hand, the narrowness and the need for drivers to give way to each other should slow traffic down. On the other hand, the proposal means that drivers will be giving way in the pedestrian / cycle space on the side!

Cycle Action has strongly supported Option 1 in our feedback (though we felt the car lane could be narrower to save costs), and we could live with Option 2. Our key concern with Option 3 is that it only takes the odd agressive driver to really put a pedestrian / cyclist – especially families – off using this link at all. And if we find this concept doesn’t work as intended, what then? The bridge will likely be too narrow to change.

If you are a local resident, cycle in the area (or want to cycle on the future tunnel Greenway), consider putting your opinion in to Auckland Transport – download the feedback form, and email it to Aaron Hutching at Auckland Transport.










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