Walkers and cyclists are jubilant at winning Auckland Council committee support yesterday for a harbour bridge pathway, but face another workout before a final council sign-off.

The transport committee agreed to support in principle a shared pathway likely to cost about $31 million. The Auckland Harbour Bridge Pathway Trust, which tried unsuccessfully for years to persuade the Government's Transport Agency to foot the bill, has found an offshoot of the New Zealand Super Fund to build the bridge as a tolled crossing.

But although the trust has since won engineering approval from the agency for a pathway and a contribution to investigation expenses, it wants the council to meet up to 75 per cent of revenue shortfall if patronage fails to meet expectations, in return for sharing potential profits and receiving ownership of the structure after 20 years.

That will require more information for an underwriting decision by the council's strategy and finance committee in about May, so the enclosed pathway can be built under the bridge's city-bound clip-on traffic lanes by the end of next year.


Although it took the transport committee more than two and a half hours before voting to pass on the baton, the trust's project director, Bevan Woodward, said afterwards he was becoming increasingly optimistic after a decade of campaigning for walking and cycling access, which was part of the original design for the bridge but dropped to cut costs.

"The more light we shine on this project, the better it looks," he said.