The councils governing body are due to meet on Thursday and it is likely to be quite a bit of a circus due to recent events. However the meeting isn’t just about addressing Len Brown and the outcome of the EY report with one of the other items of business is an update on the on what is happening with Skypath, the proposed walking and cycling route across the Harbour Bridge. We are unlikely to see any major decisions being made about the project in the open session however in the closed session of the meeting the councillors are expected to decide whether the project should move on to the next stage of having more detailed discussions with the investors who will be funding the project.
Over recent months the group behind the project – the Auckland Harbour Bridge Pathway Trust – have been refining the design which has seen them change the design to use lighter composite materials which will be similar to those used in the America’s Cup catamarans. That has seen the cost of the project increase by $500k to $33.5 million however that will likely be easily paid off through
- it being a lighter structure
- easier manufacturing and installation processes
- a longer service life
- less strengthening of the AHB being required
- reduced whole of life maintenance costs.
And here is what the new design looks like.
To enable it to get to this stage the council have undertaken additional research into the project and the reports that go with the agenda item provide some more information such as improved patronage forecasts and more detailed financial modelling. The financial modelling is being discussed in the closed session however the patronage forecasts are available to see. The report notes that some gaps were identified in the previous forecasting that had been done for the project and so some more detailed analysis has been undertaken. The company that undertook this more detailed study noted in their report that their numbers are purposefully conservative meaning we should really be able to expect more people to use it. The patronage projections are below.
The report to the council says that all three of the local boards on each side of the harbour that are directly affected by the project are in support of the project. The biggest concerns about the project so far have come from the Northcote Residents Association, The St Marys Bay Residents Association and the Westhaven Marina Users Association. The report notes that the landings on either side of the bridge are being reworked to take into account the feedback the trust received a few months ago and the affected groups are now waiting on the outcome of Thursday’s decision before engaging again on the issues they have raised.
The project will link up the North Shore and give the residents there more options in how they get around the city. In my mind, this project is absolutely essential and should be really be at, or at least very near the top of our transport priority list. In reality it should be being funded by AT/the Council/NZTA however it is prevented from doing so by our stupid funding regime which only allocates meagre budgets to be used for cycling rather than judging projects based on their merits. On Thursday it definitely needs to be approved to move to the next stage so to help it do that it would be great to drop an email to your local councillor telling them that you think it should be supported.