$5m “Transparent” Bridge To Cross Harbour Bridge


A footbridge across ten lanes of the Auckland Harbour Bridge is included in the Victoria Park tunnel project. And the latest idea talks about a of a kind of part transparent, part metallic bridge one costing between $3m and $5m that will become known as a “Gateway To Auckland.”

I can’t work out if this is totally nuts or, for a rare Auckland moment, a brilliant idea.

In the transport agency’s presentations, it included this artist’s impression of the sort of footbridge the agency had in mind:


But now The Aucklander newspaper has published this latest transport agency design:

new bridge

The 100m footbridge will cross ten lanes from Westhaven Marina as you approach Fanshawe St and reach an old steep walkway called Jacob’s Ladder that goes down the cliffs at St Mary’s Bay to the historic foreshore. The ladder was historically, the only access to St Mary’s Bay, which was an early Auckland ship builders’ place, with small vessels secured to the wharf. In the tiny reserve at the bottom of the ladder was a small navy building.

In 1925, HMNZS Ngapona was formed and used for training purposes until the harbour bridge was built. Putting the bridge approaches there left the building and naval boats high and dry, as it was now alongside a motorway. Ngapona closed last year and the naval people involved relocated to the Devonport base.

The footbridge will cross 10 lanes here across to St Mary's Bay

The footbridge will cross 10 lanes here across to St Mary's Bay

Jacob's Ladder is a steep walkway from St Mary's Bay to a small reserve

Jacob's Ladder is a steep walkway from St Mary's Bay cliff face to a small reserve

What I don’t quite get is why the footbridge is necessary. Besides the wild design startling southbound motorists as they turn the corner into St Mary’s Bay, but hopefully not triggering accidents, why will pedestrians cross the bridge at this point and how many will?
If you go to the Westhaven marine, you’ll likely to be in a vehicle with a towbar that takes your boat or your boat is moored there and when you have finished going out in the boat or cleaning it and doing repairs at the mooring, you drive away again.

Jacob’s Ladder is down a dead end street in St Mary’s Bay, amidst multi-million dollar homes and there’s an Auckland City Council sign warning people it’s very steep.

It’s certainly not for the elderly or faint-hearted and feels like abseiling down the cliff.
Down below, there is a small reserve right alongside the motorway, where the naval training post HMNZS Ngapona was run.
So what will people do after crossing the bridge? Have a picnic alongside the petrol fumes of the traffic and watch the cars whiz by? The idea seems to be to connect this reserve to Victoria Park, which is laudable. More use of what green space is left must be encouraged.
Planning documents talk of the reserve being a circuit for locals to walk, run, exercise or walk their dog.

The locals’ dog walking circuit is stated as being from St Mary’s Bay via Jacob’s Ladder to Beaumont St then along Westhaven and back up Shelley Beach Road to St Mary’s Bay, or vice -versa. The location of the bridge at Jacob’s Ladder would “enhance this circuit and avoid the adverse experience of trying to cross at Fanshawe/Beaumont Streets’ intersection.”

Ponsonby is not exactly that close at the other end either - probably a 10 minute walk for most just to get from Jacob’s Ladder to Three Lamps, which of course is not in the heart of the restaurant/bar area, which is closer to Franklin Rd. So it won’t be used to get from the marina to SPQR.

So is this just a nice $5m tradeoff to the mega- rich locals in return for all the development work and noise they’re have to endure over the next few years? A nice attraction for those rich locals to take their designer dogs across while they admire their million dollar yachts at the Westhaven mooring.

Or is this going to be Auckland’s Sydney opera house-type international waterfront tourist attraction it’s always seeking?  Am I missing something?




  1. Parsley72 says:

    I’d much rather they build pedestrian and bicycle access across the whole bridge, rather than this thing.

  2. Stranded on the North Shore says:

    They should scrap the plans for this fancy bridge and put the part of the money forward for the Harbour Bridge pedestrian and bike crossing. Goodness me.

  3. Commuter says:

    Is this a transport agency joke? A way of emphasising that they can throw away as much money as they like on ridiculous schemes that will enable the wealthy residents of St Mary’s Bay to access their yachts more rapidly? Meanwhile public transport is starved of funds; Kiwi Rail can’t even find $100,000 to clear the rail embankments of weeds, etc, etc. I despair!

  4. Jon C says:

    Good point Stranded. They seem to have forgotten that people protested and walked the bridge to make the point we want to walk and cycle across the bridge not walk across it!
    Commuter, sadly it seems so. I am sure we could find a way to spend another $5m on the train system.

  5. Jeremy Harris says:

    I like the cable stay bridges they’ve built for the Mt Roskill Motorway extension and so my vote is for the top image…

    I run around the Marina once or twice a week so I’ll use this bridge and active mode access should be provided as part of roading upgrades but I do agree with others points, what the hell is up with our transport priorities..?

  6. George Darroch says:

    Something for which Auckland has been crying out, I’m sure?

  7. M P says:

    Better render here http://www.pbase.com/enigma35/image/116865782.jpg

    I am all for the idea, it will be a stunning new gateway to the city. About time Auckland caught up with the rest of he world in design terms. IMO it is much better than a boring cable stay bridge which will not protect people from the wind and rain plus the new design has elevator access.

  8. Joshua says:

    They are also building a cable stay bridge on the Manukau Harbour Crossing project, however I’m always for something different, but hopefully they have a better image than that. Also I think it will be great, it will create a good city walking link, which is very valuable for the city.

  9. Su Yin says:

    I wish they would stop building infrastructure that promotes sustainable modes of transportation (walking, cycling) that takes you from nowhere to nowhere.

    Later, the council will use this as an excuse to crush future proposals of walking and cycling infrastructure that people really want and need. “We built a nice, fancy and expensive pedestrian walkway but nobody used it! Therefore we don’t want to waste more money on another one!” the councilors will cry.


  10. Jeremy Harris says:

    Interestingly they didn’t do a rendering of what the glass will look like when covered in exhaust particulate…

    I wonder why..?

  11. BA says:

    Guys, Guys, stop taking this all out of context. I know where you’re coming from, but look at it seriously. For once, we are building something that looks half decent. Who cares if they spend 5 mil on it? Atleast we are getting something, and thats a change.

    Also, dont complain about no-one using that walkway. THEY WILL once it is built.

    Don’t you get pissed off when Steven Joyce says 1% of Aucklanders use trains as an excuse for low funding? Thats exactly what all this moaning sounds like. Build and they will come…

  12. Joshua says:

    Totally agree BA, everyone complains about being locked out of the waterfront, then when they try and make a easier connection to improve accessibility and make the quality of city living better, everyone complains.

    A great step towards making our city more pedestrain freindly!

  13. Jeremy Harris says:

    I see where you guys are coming from but a pleasant cable stay bridge can be built and free up the access then why not use the extra $4 million for something emminently more useful..?

    A new train station, towards the CBD tunnel study or even *horror* Penlink…

  14. BA says:

    ^^ It doesnt work like that. They are working with the resources that they have.

    Almost sounds as ridiculous as some NIMBY suggesting Britomart developers that there are plenty other sites in the CBD where a 60m hotel can go up. Well, smartass, they dont own the rest of the CBD. GAAH

  15. Jeremy Harris says:

    Actually it does work like that, NZTA is responsible for Penlink and other roading programmes, local roads budgets are getting stripped back (I know hard to believe - roads underfunded) but if an adequate cable stay bridge could be built for $1 million I’d suggest the extra $4 million would be better spent on fixing potholes…

  16. BA says:

    Well, I’d rather have an iconic bridge that forms a wonderful gateway into the CBD. It looks much better than anything that has ever been constructed in the city and I praise NZTA for having a vision. (Though we can all wish similar vision was applied to rail projects).

    Count yourself lucky, you are not getting the usual shitty looking bridge with metal railings…Very common at our railway stations and motorways.

    Then no one would be up in arms because it is status-quo, something that is oh so popular in Auckland.

    High time we catch up with other “world class” cities.

  17. Jeremy Harris says:

    I take your point BA…

  18. jarbury says:

    I quite like it actually. I am guessing that if this wasn’t included, NZTA would have found another way to spend the $5 million. Probably on even more pavement!

  19. Joshua says:

    Also the fact that you are sheltered from the wind, It’s a huge wind tunnel through that section of the motorway not only because of the 8 (yes 8) lanes of motorway, but it’s also just off the sea. Don’t think as many people would use the Cable stay bridge.

  20. Max says:

    Just to give a bit of context that is missing - Cycle Action was in on the discussions about upgrading Westhaven, and the local residents were dead set against ANY sort of bridge between St Mary’s Bay to the Westhaven side. Seems they felt that the dirty unwashed would travel by car to St Mary’s Bay, park in their nice streets, and then cross over to Westhaven to fish. Seriously!

    Originally, ACC was (possibly with NZTA?) were planning TWO bridges (one at Jacobs Ladder, and one halfway to the Harbour Bridge). But that got canned, partly because of these local protests.

    As for the bridge itself: Cool stuff (especially if it is at least reasonably possible to carry your bike up and down the stairs). I’m for it, though I can understand some people might feel it is a bit steep in price.

  21. Ron says:

    Almost everybody seems to be missing the point. I walk down Jacob’s Ladder every weekday on my way to work from St Mary’s Bay to Fanshawe Street, and back again each evening. I’m saving petrol, saving carpark fees and helping myself keep healthy. This access is now being taken away for at least a year (so 0508 VIC PARK informs me.) That’s bad enough, but some of the comments above suggest there are cretins around who would like this pedestrian access removed permanently! Get real, use your legs and use your brain. What about the council providing some temporary access from St Mary’s Bay to Fanshawe Street?


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