Get your bikes and running shoes ready, Auckland is set to get a new cycling and walking bridge across Waitematā Harbour.
The crossing, estimated at $785 million, including $100 million for land selection, will be a standalone structure next to the existing Harbour Bridge, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced this morning.
It comes after more than 1000 cyclists forced two northbound lanes of the Harbour Bridge to close on Sunday, calling for a three-month cycle lane trail.
The original cycle lane plan, which Labour campaigned on at last year's election, assumed that it could be attached to the existing Auckland Harbour Bridge.
However, design development, geotechnical investigations and testing found the existing piers were not able to accommodate the extra weight without considerable modifications.
"We need this transport connection to move ahead but it isn't technically possible to attach it to the existing bridge without putting the whole structure at risk," Wood said in a statement.
"A stand-alone structure is the safest option that will not only provide a walking and cycling option for commuters but creates an outstanding piece of tourism infrastructure."
The project is expected to take five years to consent and build.
"Northern Pathway is the missing link in Auckland’s walking and cycling network and Aucklanders finally will be able to get across the harbour by foot or bike — it’s important we get it right and make sure it’s an enduring piece of infrastructure, providing alternative modes of transport across the harbour and helping reduce congestion on our Auckland roads," Wood said.
Alternate options were explored, including a gondola, dedicated ferry or bus service, using existing lanes, and a separate multi-modal structure for walking, cycling and public transport - the recommended solution being a full-height separate bridge option.