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Bridge cycleway seeks green light

DELWYN DICKEY
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2013
SkyPath
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NEARING APPROVAL: The design for the proposed SkyPath, using composite materials used in the marine industry and America’s Cup.

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Revised designs for the $31 million SkyPath cycleway across the Waitemata Harbour will be considered by Auckland councillors on Thursday to decide if the Auckland Council will underwrite the project.

The proposed pathway, a Public Private Partnership project, will run under the city side of the Auckland Harbour Bridge and provide both pedestrian and cycle access across it.

The project will eventually transfer to council ownership.

Put forward by the Auckland Harbour Bridge Pathway Trust, the project has the backing of the NZ Transport Agency.

Trust spokesman and Pt Wells resident Bevan Woodward expects the plan changes will see a positive response and he hopes the council will underwrite the project early next year.

He says the trust is working on resource consents, estimated to cost $500,000.

Warkworth's Core Builders Composite is building the pathway, so it will be a shot in the arm for Warkworth's economy and the country's marine industry.

Composite materials and manufacturing technologies developed by the company for the 14 America's Cup AC 45s and some of the Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle America's Cup catamarans will be used in the construction.

The company plans to build the transparent tube in 14 metre sections.

Using the lightweight but strong material has added $3m to the cost, but means SkyPath will be stronger and a quarter of the weight, Mr Woodward says.

"It will also be easier to implement and have much lower maintenance costs with a service life of at least 50 years."

The change in construction will make the structure mobility scooter compliant, he says.

There is anticipation the council will agree to underwrite the project, but it is not a done deal, Albany ward councillor Wayne Walker says.

Mr Walker chairs the council environment, climate change and natural heritage committee and is a walking and cycling advocate.

He supports the project in principle, but says residents either end of the pathway have raised issues which need to be considered.

Northcote Pt and St Mary's Bay residents had raised concerns over insufficient detail on the entry and exit points, which saw SkyPath designers head back to the drawing board. Designs for the landings will be released on Thursday.

These are old suburbs with narrow roads and very little parking, so parking issues are very much on their minds, Mr Walker says. The viability of the project was also raised.

No final decision will be made until new designs for landings on both Northcote Pt and St Mary's Bay sides are shown to residents, Mr Woodward says.

He wants the whole project publicly notified.

SkyPath has also been realigned to avoid Westhaven Drive after the Westhaven Marine Users Association wanted to charge $800,000 a year to allow the public to access the pathway along the public road.

Providing the project gets the all-clear from the council and the consents process, construction could start at the end of next year and the pathway open for business by mid-2015.

Rodney ward councillor Penny Webster has long opposed the project in the council.

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It is unclear if the new design or Core Builders involvement will see a change to her position on the project.

- Rodney Times

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