The Transport Agency is looking for feedback on the landings at each end of the Auckland Harbour Bridge Shared Path (aka Skypath 2.0). Feedback is open until Wednesday 4 September.

The “emerging design” proposes ramps at each end. Lifts and stairs have also been investigated, but are less desirable for a host of reasons. There’ll be more details to come, but for now we encourage you to say YES to the ramps.

Let’s keep things simple, affordable, and eminently (and imminently) buildable – and show loud and clear we want this path built ASAP!

Scroll down for the images and our take – and here are the crucial links for giving feedback:

READ THE CONSULTATION MATERIAL

TAKE THE QUICK FEEDBACK SURVEY

Heads up: there’s also a drop-in session at the Ponsonby Primary School Hall, 44 Curran Street, Thursday 22 August, 5 – 7.30pm.


Eyes on the prize!

NZTA’s articulation of the big picture continues to impress us. The consultation document reminds us all that this isn’t just about access over the bridge – this is about completing a missing link in the wider network, which will connect to SeaPath and thus create a seamless, uninterrupted connection from the North Shore to the central city and spreading out across the isthmus cycleways. This is huge.

Why this particular consultation now?

With NZTA now in charge of the design, they’re working on a detailed business case (DBC) to take the Board. As part of that process, they’re checking back in with stakeholders – including those who’ll use the pathway, and those who live near it, to zoom in on any key design issues.

And it will help the DBC to have some clarity around the landings, how they work with the existing consent, and how they tie into SeaPath and the onward connections at both ends.

What are the options for the landings?

Two options: ramps, or a lifts + stairs combo. (The original SkyPath design doesn’t dovetail with the new 5m-wide pathway at deck level)

  • Option 1: Ramps that are specifically designed to connect with the Transport Agency’s new preferred design (which is now 5 metres wide rather than 4 metres). These are located under the Auckland Harbour Bridge at both ends, largely within the consented SkyPath design footprint.
  • Option 2: Lift and stairs combination, located next to and underneath the Auckland Harbour Bridge

Note: all images below are artists’ impressions showing indicative and approximate locations.

OPTION 1: RAMPS

Ramps at the Northern Landing

Northern Landing ramp: birdseye view showing approximate location of ramps next to the Harbour Bridge. (NZTA)
Northern landing ramp, side view: artist impression showing indicative view of ramp. (NZTA)
Northern Landing: artist impression showing indicative ramp entry/exit below harbour bridge. INZTA)

Ramps at the Southern Landing

Southern landing ramp: birdseye view showing approximate location of ramp entry/exit point underneath the Harbour Bridge. (NZTA)
Southern landing ramp, side view: artist impression showing indicative view of ramp. (NZTA)
Southern Landing ramp: artist impression showing indicative ramp entry/exit below Harbour Bridge. INZTA)

OPTION 2: LIFTS & STAIRS

Lift & Stairs at the Northern Landing

Northern Landing lifts and stairs: birdseye view showing approximate location of lifts and stairs next to the Harbour Bridge. (NZTA)
Northern landing, lifts and stairs: side view showing indicative view of lifts and stairs next to the Harbour Bridge. (NZTA)
Northern landing, lifts and stairs: artist impression showing indicative location of lifts and stairs under the Harbour Bridge. (NZTA)

Ramps & Stairs at the Southern Landing

Southern Landing lifts and stairs: birdseye view showing approximate location of lifts and stairs next to the Harbour Bridge. (NZTA)
Southern Landing, lifts and stairs: artist impression showing indicative view of lifts and stairs next to the Harbour Bridge. (NZTA)

So it’s ramps, obviously?

Obviously! As a transport link, it’s critical that the pathway works for transporting all the people who’ll use it.

There’s a straightforward simplicity to the ‘acoustic’ option that works for everyone. Roll on, roll off. No waiting times. And who wants to carry a bike, let alone a cargo bike or several children with bikes up several flights of stairs?

The only advantage we can see with stairs is they’d provide a sporting challenge for people who like that kind of thing. And lifts, while offering the promise of easy access, bring a whole host of potential issues with capacity and operation, both functionally (as understood by anyone who’s attempted to use the St Mary’s Bay bridge when the lift is out-of-order) and in terms of managing the flow of people on and off (picture the queues in the undercroft at peak times).

Do the ramps work with the current consent?

That’s for NZTA’s legal team to determine, but we’re reassured that at the northern landing, the proposed ramps can stay in the reserve (and decouple from following the line of the AHB deck earlier), allowing for an even simpler, cleaner ramp system than the original Skypath ramps.

Any other issues with the ramps, at first glance?

Gradient would be the first question on many people’s minds: will there be steep sections, and will it be accessible for those using wheelchairs and other mobility devices? We understand the ramp gradients would be in the same realm as the gradient of the bridge and thus the path itself.

The other issue is visibility, e.g. maximum transparency at the bend on the Southern ramp, where we assume people on wheels would stick to the outside of the bend. At the Northern landing, more opaque panels along the outer edges of the path may be preferred to ensure privacy for people’s back yards – which we can totally support, as long as NZTA makes sure this doesn’t create any blind spots around curves on the ramp itself.

And lastly, connections. At the southern end in particular, we’re interested in how the ramp would smoothly interface with the roundabout slip lane, Curran St, and Westhaven Drive/ the Westhaven boardwalk. At the northern end, we expect a smooth connection with SeaPath, as well as a handy exit for Northcote Point.

Why not both: ramps AND stairs/ lifts?

We can see a bunch of reasons: expense, time, complexity, and consents. The ramps are closer to what’s already consented, which likely makes things easier, process-wise. And going for both – if it could even be done inside of the existing consent – would add a great deal of time and cost to design and construction. After decades of delay, the clock is ticking on this one. A bird in the hand, etc.

Also, to our eye, you could maybe retrofit lifts and stairs in future if you wanted to, but it would be much harder and perhaps impossible to start with lifts and stairs, and then attempt to add ramps later. That’s because the ramped design needs to start dipping back down to the ground earlier than the lift option. So, coming back and adding ramps later might require a full rebuild of the lifts and stairs too, adding huge cost and likely closing the path for many months. Nobody would want that.

On this point, the consultation document has this to say about timing and cost: “The soonest that construction could start on the project is late 2020 and it will take about two and a half years to build. The estimated cost is $100–$140 million, but we will have more certainty on the cost once the DBC is completed.” Aucklanders are champing at the bit for this project to get going, and get done. Ramps, and ready to ride in (ideally) 2023? We’ll take it!

Add your voice in support before 4 September!

GIVE YOUR FEEDBACK NOW

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3 responses to “Let’s ramp up Skypath 2.0! Have your say on the landing designs before 4 September

  1. The design is going to be the ramps – it’s pretty much a done deal.
    There will be barriers as they are needed to control user numbers and opening hours – it will not be 24/7.
    There is no budget for Seapath – it is unlikely to happen and if it does, no time soon.
    The project will require a new resource consent, so I would keep that in mind when you make your submissions and avoid things that will not be acceptable to the local residents.

    1. The new pathway is 5m, and if you look at the projected peak ped/cycle numbers, that is very do-able (I’ll ignore the effects on opening day when obviously they would need some crowd management). In Christchurch we have some 4m shared paths with 1500 cycles a day and God knows how many pedestrians (and scooters) as well, and yet they operate fine. Gates will be needed, but simply to close the path when conditions aren’t safe (e.g. howling storm).

  2. Hi I think it is great that the sky path is finally happening. But my concerns are the connections at either end. On the North shore side you will end up back on city streets and not on a dedicated cycle way which will put a lot of people off especially around Onewa road. Secondly on the city side you will have to negotiate your way through west haven then the Wynyard quarter dealing with cars pedestrians etc.
    We need to have dedicated cycleways both sides of the bridge like the north western or you will never get people out of their cars.
    I am travelling in Scandinavia at the moment and they are light years ahead of NZ with cycle ways because the actually spend money on them.

    Brett

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