Bridge stays shut to bikes and walkers

By Brooke Donovan

There will be no walking or cycling across the Harbour Bridge - for now.

The New Zealand Transport Agency decided on a list of priority transport projects for the coming year, and Harbour Bridge walking and cycling were not among them.

Chairman Brian Roche said in a letter to Getacross campaign spokesman Bevan Woodward and regional transport chairwoman Christine Rose that the project "has achieved a low assessment against the criteria" for priority transport projects.

"An important consideration has been the consequential impacts of the proposed facility on the structural integrity of the bridge and its ongoing operation," Mr Roche said.

But Ms Rose said cycling advocates would investigate the possibility of holding a walking and cycling trial while bridge lanes were closed for remedial work.

"We haven't ruled out other, more cost-effective methods," Ms Rose said. "It'll be accommodated somehow and the trial idea is feasible now. It's cost-effective and doesn't require big technical solutions for access."

Some form of access across the Harbour Bridge remained the only option and was a vital part of the regional transport strategy.

"We've got all these targets; regional walking and cycling targets, national walking and cycling targets, and it's time we started providing the infrastructure to carry out those activities in a safe way," said Ms Rose.

Mr Woodward said the decision was "very disappointing", given the strong support the walkway and cycleway had from the regional council, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority and Aucklanders.

He said the bridge's northbound clip-on lanes would be closed each Saturday night for the strengthening project, so lanes could remain closed until Sunday early afternoon to allow Aucklanders to walk and cycle across.

"We'd like to see the NZTA adopt a can-do attitude to providing walking and cycling access on the Auckland Harbour Bridge," Mr Woodward said.

A spokesman for the agency said he could make no comment on the trial idea until the board met this week.

- NZ Herald

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