NZTA have acquired the design IP, naming and naming rights of SkyPath (and SeaPath) from us. They are now progressing with their new design called Northern Pathway - which is a separate bridge to be built alongside the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
The new bridge has pro's and con's... it's slightly wider (5 metres) and would have no limit of the number of users, however it's a lot more expensive (currently estimated at $240 million), needs a new resource constent and requires an anchorage buttress in Te Onewa Pa Reserve along with the removal of houses and scheduled (protected) pohutukawa.
Unfortunately it also introduces delay and risks. The project's delivery timeframe has been slipping while costs increase significantly. We're not fully comfortable with all this but NZTA seem committed to getting on with it; so we're working with them the best we can to assist. Along with Bike Auckland, we sit on a Strategic Advisory Group which gives the opportunity to give input.
The SkyPath proposal
The SkyPath Trust worked from 2010 to 2019 to create an innovative new solution - with a viable engineering design and approved business case. The SkyPath design challenged NZTA’s position that it couldn’t be done with an innovative private engineering solution - a composite structure (lightweight yet stronger than steel) attached to the eastern clip-ons. In 2010, NZTA agreed that this new design was structurally possible, and collaborated with the SkyPath Trust in extensive engineering works to check feasibility. A public launch of the new SkyPath design in 2011 was led by then Mayor Len Brown and welcomed by many supporters as an exciting new way to unlock an achievable pathway solution.
Funding remained a sticking point, with NZTA declining to provide funds, but agreeing that they would consider a licence for a private facility to operate. Their refusal to provide funding led to the development of the Trust’s proposal for a partnership with a private investor, which would have meant a small fee for users of SkyPath. Getacross wanted to see a facility that was free for all pedestrians and cyclists to use - but supporters agreed that this private investment seemed like the only viable method of funding the facility, given NZTA's refusal to do so, prior to the 2019 funding announcement.
SkyPath and their investor developed a design and business case which gained Auckland Council support following 2014. Auckland Council Resource Consent was granted in 2015, and confirmed in 2016 following appeals to the Environment Court.
SkyPath could have been delivered by NZTA for Aucklanders to start using in 2021 but unfortunately we now face years of delay and uncertainly.