Design work continues on the $785 million cycle bridge across Auckland's Waitemata Harbour after the Government bowed to public pressure and scrapped the project.
Transport Minister Michael Wood confirmed on Saturday the standalone bridge will not go ahead, saying "it did not get the public support needed for a project of its scale, and we acknowledge that".
Following the announcement, Waka Kotahi said an alliance of private sector designers and contractors "will now complete the design concept for the bridge portion of the Northern Busway".
The alliance, set up in August last year to finalise the design and prepare for construction to start this year, is made up of Fulton Hogan, HEB construction, Aurecon, McConnell Dowell and Freyssinet.
A Waka Kotahi spokeswoman said the alliance is not carrying out new work, just getting the design to a suitable point to hand back to the transport agency.
"Once the alliance is disestablished all design documentation will be transferred to Waka Kotahi to be filed. As with documentation on all projects, it will be safely stored enabling staff to access and share it to assist on other projects that may benefit from the information," the spokeswoman said.
Waka Kotahi had spent $51m on design, engineering and other work for the abandoned bridge up until the end of September, but is unable at this stage to say what the final cost will be.
National's associate transport spokesman Christopher Luxon said more than enough time and money has been sunk into the cycle bridge when it is clear the public overwhelmingly oppose it.
"The project has been scrapped, so why spend more time and money on it? It definitely needs an explanation from the Government," he said.
Wood said Waka Kotahi would look at lower-cost options for getting cyclists and walkers across the harbour.
Short-term options could include dedicated bike ferries or buses linking to cycleways on either side. The Seapath cycleway project on the North Shore leading to the bridge would continue, but would be redesigned.
He ruled out permanently allocating a lane of the bridge for cycles and pedestrians, but said he had written to Waka Kotahi to express support for a trial of that over the quieter summer months, if it was safe.
Wood said work would still go ahead on plans for a second harbour crossing, for which public transport would be a priority, and the money allocated for the cycle bridge would now be used on other projects, such as bringing forward the $1.4 billion Eastern Busway project.
The busway - the second biggest public transport project in Auckland behind the $4.4 billion City Rail Link - had its completion date pushed back from 2025 to 2027 due to a funding wrangle between Auckland and Wellington.
The dedicated busway, similar to the Northern Busway, is expected to carry about 30,000 passengers a day between Botany and the train station at Panmure.