Auckland's new $7.9 million motorway footbridge finally opened yesterday after overcoming massive teething troubles.

The Jacobs Ladder walkway spans State Highway 1 and links St Marys Bay to the Waitemata Harbour.

Construction on the footbridge stopped last January after cracks were found in 11 of the 306 acrylic panels cladding the structure.

"The crazing [fine cracks] has not deteriorated in the past 10 months," New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman Steve Mutton said. "Tests confirm the panels have retained their strength and that there is no safety risk to people using the footbridge or driving under it." Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye cut the ribbon, together with NZTA staff, elders from the local iwi, Ngati Whatua O Orakei, and community leaders.


Kaye said: "I will be using it myself to get to the harbour as I am a keen kayaker and training for the Coast to Coast race."

The Jacobs Ladder Footbridge is the last stage of the $340m Victoria Park Tunnel project, the first of the Government's roads of national significance to be completed.

"This is an auspicious day for the community," St Marys Bay Association chairman Tony Skelton said. "All we want now is a tunnel underneath [the harbour] to the North Shore."