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A Beach-Haven to Greenhithe bridge?

I don’t often propose new roads on this blog, but there are a couple of possible new bridge connections around Auckland that I think could be very useful additions to our roading network and would potentially be more useful ways of spending our roading budget than on forever widening motorways. The first is the possible Whau River bridge between Te Atatu South and the Rosebank peninsula that I discussed last month. The second possibly useful additional bridge is one between Beach Haven and Greenhithe on Auckland’s North Shore. Effectively, the idea would be to build a bridge somewhere along the blue line’s alignment below, which would mean that vehicles and people (including buses, cars, cyclists and pedestrians) wouldn’t need to take the very long way around any more (indicated in red): The stretch of water the bridge would go over is only around 500 metres wide, and as I don’t think there are particularly many boats which head up this arm of the Waitemata Harbour, the bridge wouldn’t necessarily have to be that high. So I don’t see it as being a massively expensive project.

In terms of its benefits, probably the main one is the reduced travel times (real time savings benefits!) Of not having to go the very long way around via Glenfield. This would save around 15 minutes off each car journey and obviously more for pedestrians (not that there would be any at the moment) and cyclists. It would also bring Greenhithe much more obviously into the North Shore and provide better access for those in Beach Haven to areas like Albany, Westgate and west Auckland in general. The map below shows how long a trip from Beach Haven to Greenhithe currently takes, according to Google Maps (probably on a day without any congestion):You need to drive almost 11 kilometres as a detour just to go in a straight line what is well short of one kilometre. That’s pretty inefficient.

There would also potentially be many public transport benefits arising from such a bridge too. Making the trip shown above on public transport is nigh on impossible:


It seems crazy that it would take so long for a trip that’s barely a kilometre as the crow flies. Now obviously there aren’t too many employment opportunities in either Beach Haven or Greenhithe so getting exactly between the two places isn’t a massive concern. However, there are employment hubs like Albany, Westgate and Henderson that people living in the Beach Haven/Birkdale corner of the North Shore may want to have somewhat reasonable access to – and a bridge like this, with a bus transfer point at Greenhithe onto the 130 route (which would hopefully be straightened up a bit) would provide the kind of connection sorely lacking at the moment. You could end up with something like this: The blue line indicates the current 973/974 buses, which run fairly frequently between Beach Haven and the CBD. The red shows part of the 130 route that potentially offers a great cross-town connection (though I have straightened it up in line with a discussion in this blog post).

There would obviously be some negative effects of the proposal. There would be a street in Beach Haven that’s very quiet at the moment which would become very busy. There may be difficulties in “landing” the bridge at its northern end. There may be environmental effects as this seems like a fairly sensitive corner of the harbour and there would obviously be the cost of the proposal. But at the same time I think there would be quite major benefits: for all type of potential users (drivers, bus riders, cyclists and pedestrians). Perhaps most useful it could link Beach Haven and Greenhithe better with each other and better with Auckland as a whole as they’re two quite strangely isolated parts of the city at the moment.

27 comments to A Beach-Haven to Greenhithe bridge?

  • Nick R

    I’ve always thought this would be a good idea, and now that the upper harbour motorway is nearing completion it makes even more sense. If built it would present the best route from the Beach Haven area to Albany, west Auckland and probably to the airport… Taking pressure off the very congested Onewa Rd and SH1. Of course the upper harbour is also earmarked as an eventual route on the rapid transit network so bus routes across would be ideal.

    • Jono

      This is a stupid idea. Great way to waste limited transport dollars. Do you have any idea how many millions a bridge like this would cost? For the benefit of whom? Tell me why anyone from beach haven wants to go to greenhithe or vice versa. They want to get to the city for the most part. A much better use of money would be a ferry service. Auckland had the most underused waterways in terms of public transport of just about any city in the world. One thing Auckland does NOT need is more roads encouraging yet more traffic. Absurd.

    • Jono n

      This is a dreadful idea. Great way to waste limited transport dollars. Do you have any idea how many millions a bridge like this would cost? For the benefit of whom? Tell me why anyone from beach haven wants to go to greenhithe or vice versa. They want to get to the city for the most part. A much better use of money would be a ferry service. Auckland had the most underused waterways in terms of public transport of just about any city in the world. One thing Auckland does not need is more roads encouraging yet more traffic. Absurd!

  • Lti

    Half of the people this would benefit would be the ones most vocal against it. Dont propose more projects that are simply a blight on an otherwise lovely environment.

  • Here’s an idea to challenge the thinkers: build the bridge, but ban cars from it.
    Make the bridge so that it is impossible to expand with extra lanes.
    Introduce high frequency bus services, walking and cycling paths on it.

    Brisbane has a bridge just like this- the Eleanor Schonell Bridge, and it is remarkably well used.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_Schonell_Bridge

    • obi

      Brisbane also has some superb pedestrian and bicycle -only bridges like the Goodwill. A few similarly-sized bridges in Auckland would encourage cycling by making the city essentially smaller and by making some routes possible that didn’t require bicycles to run along busy traffic routes. They’d also look very cool.

    • Franco

      A bridge for walking and cycling would be ideal and likely to be supported by the vast majority of locals (of which I am one living on Gazelle Ave). It would provide an extremely valuable transport link, encourage sustainable transport, take pressure off roads like Onewa road and the back route up to Albany and still allow us to retain the quiet we enjoy down here in this quiet neck of the woods.

    • There was one planned from Beach Haven to the CBD which should have been running now, but the centre-right government cancelled the regional funding package that was to pay for it and mothballed the project. I don’t think a ferry from Beach Haven to Greenhithe would be a realistic option though

  • Topcat

    Not really sure who would use this route. A better option might be on econnecting West Harbour with the top of the Te Atatu Peninsula- though you might upset some on the peninsula who might like to stay as part of a backwater.

  • Simon

    Even just a cycle link would be a nice start. It would link in well via sh18 to the western. Lots of shore cyclists have to go that way because they can’t ‘get across’ the harbour bridge.

  • I’m not sure whether this is the best location for a cycling/PT only “green bridge”. I wonder what would be an ideal location…

  • axio

    It’s been a while since I was out there, but isn’t the terrain on the Greenhithe side relatively imposing?

  • I think it is quite steep axio. I always envisaged the bridge would be quite high-level and probably would slope upwards from Beach Haven towards Greenhithe.

  • I’d invision something like the upper harbour bridge (i.e. the new half), two lanes, nice wide cycle shoulder and fairly steep. According to wikipedia:

    “The new bridge cost NZ$ 35 million and provides a 524 m long, 16.5m wide, 10-span crossing.”

    It is also a scenic reserve I beleive, which could pose some issue.

    Perhaps a better route would be slightly further east, say an extension of Birkdale/Kahika Rd along a causway with a shorter bridge up to Upper Harbour Drive. This would avoid almost any property acquisition, athough at the expense of a significant stand of mangroves.

  • Chris Harris

    Good point from Brisurbane about how it should be a green bridge. Absolutely. Unfortunately, North Shore City built a similarly-conceived bridge from Beach Haven to Glenfield via the Kaipatiki Estuary a few years ago and things did not turn out as planned. Buses over the bridge had been planned for at some stage in the process, in part because a comprehensive rationalisation of North Shore Bus Routes was provided for in the Busway Heads of Agreement circa 2000. Transfund Funding of the Northern Busway was actually conditional on the rationalisation of the North Shore’s bus routes. The Kaipatiki Bridge is the most direct route from Beach Haven to Glenfield, Wairau Valley, Smales Farm and Takapuna in that order. But then it turned out that ARTA lacked the legal mandate to change the routes. ARTA could have just let a contract over the Kaipatiki Bridge anyway, but seemed reluctant to do so, perhaps because it would have meant a nasty direct fight with the operators of the kind that economists call “destructive competition,” i.e. two services compete for the same street, one subsidised and one not, and only one survives. This in turn would probably have led to a legal challenge, pre the Public Transport Management Act 2008, on the grounds of unfair government-subsidised competition with commercially registered Beach Haven routes via Onewa Rd (which of course are profitable mainly because of public enforcement of the transit lane.) And so the proposed Kaipatiki Road bus services never eventuated. Among other things this shows in a perfect nutshell why the Public Transport Management Act, for which ARTA lobbied intensely, was so overdue and must not be tampered with. Otherwise, it’s back to the bad old Auckland of planning gridlock and “Yes We Can’t,” a city incapable even of running buses across a new bridge.

  • George D

    It’s important that we build the Greenhithe-Northcote motorway to finish the network, before we spend any more on public transport

    (tongue firmly in cheek)

  • George D

    More seriously, this has genuine potential to link the North and the West, and is just the kind of project that the new city can facilitate. Hopefully it isn’t too expensive…

    I’ve been on the Eleanor Schonell Bridge, and it is indeed wonderful. But I don’t think it would be the right solution for this, which is essentially about linking large car based suburbs. Linking this corner with a proper MRT could be a future option.

  • Marwan

    I dont think the fine people of Greenhithe would appreciate being attached next to Beach Haven I mean think of all the low socio-ec people coming thru to affluent Greenhithe!

    • Franco

      Yeah that is a point for sure. Coastal areas of Beach Haven (which is where a proposed bridge would connect through) is an area on the rise – evident from all the works going on renovating houses around there. I would expect that to continue with the affordable nature of prices around there and to excelerate with a ferry service starting soon on the back of Hobsonville Point development. The Ferry service will serve to ease conjestion on roads like Onewa Road, while a bridge will help connect this area with the west. I guess the obvious jibe (John Banks style) would be that it would be a bridge built to connect west criminals with Beach Haven + Birkdale criminals. Not sure how funny that really is to people in the west of this part of the North Shore.

  • David

    I live in Gazelle Ave in Beach Haven as well. I think the idea has some merit but I just think the cost would be huge and simply not worth it. Personally I think the council really needs to seriously look at having a ferry Service at Beach Haven wharf. I think this would certainly reduce the amount of car traffic going into the city and would be used by people in Birkdale, Beach Haven and Glenfield which are three large areas. The only problem with having a ferry service is “parking” for all the cars. Bit like Birkenhead wharf and the cars on Hinemoa street. Chocablock most days.
    Now that we have one council under Len Brown this may finally be done.

  • tochigi

    why not better/cheap feeder bus services?

  • rod

    Well at least the criminal element would save on fuel

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