Draft conditions for the $1.85 billion Waterview motorways project - including $8 million for a cycling and pedestrian pathway - are superior to a deal that Auckland Council staff recommended to councillors.

Previously confidential council papers released into the public domain show staff recommended acceptance of an offer from the Transport Agency of just $5 million for extra open space mitigation and a shared pathway between Owairaka and Waterview.

The offer included $2.5 million for one extra footbridge, over the western railway line from Soljak Place, leaving Auckland Transport to pay for and develop the rest of the pathway.

But the council's transport committee rejected the recommendation, holding out instead for the Transport Agency to pay for two extra pathway bridges, as well as one already planned across a new section of motorway through Alan Wood Reserve.

That was despite a warning from council lawyers that a Government-appointed board of inquiry into the Waterview project might accept a lower level of mitigation proposed earlier by the agency.

The agency maintained during a long public hearing on the project that because it was laying 2.5km of a 4.5km section of motorway through tunnels, it should not be made responsible for building a cycleway over them.

Although Cycle Action Auckland said a missing link should be provided between the northwestern and southwestern cycleways as an integral part of such a large transport project, the agency said it should only have to build a path along surface sections.

But the board of inquiry, in a draft decision issued before final approval for the project expected at the end of this month, has supported the council's position by requiring the agency to pay $8 million for a cycleway including two extra footbridges.

The second bridge is to be built across Oakley Creek from Alford St.

Other mitigation required includes upgrading football playing fields in Phyllis Reserve in Mt Albert and developing a new reserve with playing fields off Valonia St in Owairaka.

The board also wants the agency to provide a skateboard rink and BMX bike track in Waterview Reserve, which will be realigned to make way for extra traffic ramps at a interchange between the Northwestern and Southwestern Motorways.

Cycle Action Auckland is celebrating what it describes as a resounding success for cyclists.

It will allow cyclists to travel on largely off-road tracks from Southdown or Mangere Bridge to the Northwestern Motorway, beside which they can continue either to Henderson or to central Auckland.

Group spokeswoman Barbara Cuthbert praised residents along the motorway route for supporting the campaign for the cycleway extension.

"The new cycleways are a legitimate new transport link and a key part of making Waterview a really multi-modal project," she said.

Council transport committee chairman Mike Lee said the board of inquiry's decision vindicated the committee's decision to reject staff recommendations and support the Albert-Eden Local Board in its battle for superior mitigation.