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COVID-19 (Fast Track Consenting) Bill

  •   What is the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast Track Consenting) Bill?

    The Bill establishes new fast-track resource consenting and designation processes for eligible infrastructure and development projects, aimed at promoting economic recovery. These processes adopt and modify existing Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) processes and will expedite certain eligible projects, while still applying appropriate environmental safeguards.

    Projects are either listed in the Bill (listed projects), or confirmed through an Order in Council (referred projects). Northern Pathway, Westhaven to Akoranga is listed in the Bill. Both of these processes use Expert Consenting Panels to consider and determine resource consents (including imposing conditions) and designations, replacing the role that local authorities play under the RMA.

    The Bill only relates to resource consents and notices of requirement for designations. Other RMA processes, such as plan changes, are not included.

    The Bill has been introduced to Parliament (expected 16 June) and is being referred to a Select Committee. Submitting to Select Committee is an opportunity to influence the Bill before it becomes law.

    Find out more about the Fast Track Bill(external link)

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  •   How much faster will the Fast Track Bill mean you can deliver this project?

    The new process enabled by the Bill will provide another valuable consenting tool for driving more efficient project delivery.

    For the Northern Pathway, it provides certainty and an accelerated process for obtaining final consents and designations.

    However, the consenting process is only one part of the delivery process. The ability to accelerate projects will also depend on other considerations such as property purchase, resolving design issues and other environmental approvals.

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  •   Why did you choose this project for fast-tracking?

    Decisions about which projects are approved to use this process are made by Ministers, not Waka Kotahi. We will continue to assess if other projects meet the criteria and will benefit from the accelerated process, and if so submit them for consideration through the referral process.

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  •   Are Mana whenua are concerned you will ignore their views now? Will sites of cultural significance be looked after?

    Waka Kotahi remains committed to working in partnership with iwi to deliver great environmental, social and transport outcomes on all projects, including those that follow this consenting process. Input from our partners is an important part of how we deliver high quality projects.

    Extensive engagement with mana whenua has been carried out on the Northern Pathway and this will continue. This has included mana whenua identifying areas of cultural importance and protections that need to be considered in the designs.

    The Bill also requires Panels to seek comments from certain persons when considering applications, including any relevant iwi authorities. This provides an opportunity to raise issues with a project, as the Panel has the responsibility to make consenting decisions and impose conditions.

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  •   Will you still consider the views of stakeholders and the community?

    Waka Kotahi remains committed to working in partnership with iwi, stakeholders and communities to deliver great environmental, social and transport outcomes on the Northern Pathway, including those that follow this consenting process. Input from our stakeholders and communities is an important part of how we deliver high quality projects.

    Extensive engagement has occurred on the Northern Pathway and this work will continue.

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Westhaven to Akoranga

About this project

  •   What is the history of this project?

    A walking and cycling link across the Waitematā Harbour has been supported by Aucklanders and in development for many years. In 2018, the Government handed delivery of this shared path over to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

    Northern Pathway meets the Government’s priority to create more active transport choices for Aucklanders and deliver critical missing links in the urban cycle network between the City Centre and North Shore.

    Waka Kotahi has been working with partners, key stakeholders and speaking with community regarding the development of the design for the Northern Pathway between Westhaven to Akoranga and this section is currently in the design, consenting and procurement phase.

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  •   What is the aim of this project?

    The Northern Pathway will provide a seamless walking and cycling connection between Auckland central and the North Shore; one which delivers the best accessibility for all users.

    This walking and cycling link over the Auckland Harbour Bridge will be built as a continuous path at the same level as vehicles and will eventually connect all the way out to Albany, becoming the principal regional connection for walking and cycling and other active modes. It will connect to widespread areas of the city’s cycling and walking network, extending to communities east and west on both sides of the bridge. It is part of a wider network that includes the Tamaki Drive cycle route as well as the North-Western Cycleway which now extends all the way to Westgate. 

    We recognise that this project needs to provide great connections to where people live, work or access services and education. Making sure that we have a good number of access points is a critical part of that.

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  •   The Auckland Harbour Bridge is so old, why are you investing money in building the pathway across it?

    The Auckland Harbour Bridge (AHB) undergoes regular monitoring and a detailed maintenance programme that ensures it remains in good condition. There will be continued demand for the existing AHB irrespective of future developments, including the completion of the Northern Pathway and possible additional harbour connections.

     When the Northern Pathway crosses the Harbour Bridge, it is attached to the bridge piers, rather than the ‘clip on’, and so will both preserve the capacity of the existing ‘clip on’ and accommodate user loading comfortably.

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Communications and engagement

  •   How is Waka Kotahi communicating and engaging with partners, stakeholders and the community during the project?

    Our engagement with partners, stakeholders and the community is well underway and will continue throughout the project.

    We have been using newsletters, drop-in Q & A sessions, presentations, and other opportunities for the community to give us feedback. We have needed to change our approach because of Covid-19 and we will now predominantly be communicating with people online. We will continue to share information and updates on our project page and you can view reports from our previous public engagements for this project too.

    Northern Pathway project page

    We continue to operate a dedicated email address for people to ask questions and you can also request that one of our team phones you.

    We are working with our partners, including mana whenua, Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, and Panuku to optimise project outcomes, by ensuring good connectivity to local amenities, and respecting the area’s cultural heritage, environment and values. We are regularly engaging with key interest groups, local boards and other key stakeholders.

    Waka Kotahi aims to create the best outcomes for the community, as well as those who will use the Northern Pathway.

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  •   Why are you engaging again when we’ve heard a lot about this project already?

    We know a lot of people want the shared path and just want us to get on and build it, but there’s a process we must go through, and Waka Kotahi is committed to these engagement opportunities as part of that. It’s also important to keep momentum going on the project as infrastructure will play a critical role in the economic recovery of New Zealand.

    This further stage of asking for feedback builds on the years of public discussion about this pathway that has fed into the designs so far and our engagement last year. This is an exciting part of the design process, because we’ve taken all the feedback we’ve had to date and looked at some different options along the route. Now we have a preferred design for the key pathway connections, and we want to share it with the local community and everyone who will use it.

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Costs and funding

  •   Why is this estimated cost significantly more than previous cost estimates for the projects (Auckland Harbour Bridge Shared Path and SeaPath)?

    The previous estimated cost released publicly in 2018 was for the harbour bridge component of the section only and was based on an earlier design (developed by the Skypath Trust).  This section of the Northern Pathway now encompasses both the projects previously known as the Auckland Harbour Bridge Shared Path and SeaPath.

    Waka Kotahi has done substantial work to revise and improve the Northern Pathway design. This work includes designing it to deliver a seamless pathway at the same level as the existing Harbour Bridge, providing a direct connection between Westhaven and Akoranga, increasing its width, adding in pause points, and ‘engineering in’ other improvements to ensure the structure is long-lasting. These changes will help to ensure that the pathway meets the needs of both its users and the surrounding community for generations to come.

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Timeframes

Use of the Northern Pathway

  •   What are the forecasted user numbers for the Northern Pathway?

    Current forecasts estimate 1,800 average pedestrian and 2,700 cycle trips daily (i.e., one-way trips) on the Harbour Bridge component (Westhaven to Princes Street) on an average day in 2028.  Between Princes Street and Esmonde Road Interchange, forecasts estimate 180 to 400 additional pedestrian trips, and 1,200 cycle trips daily.

    We expect the majority of work commuters, as well as educational and recreational trips to access the Northern Pathway at Westhaven and either Princes Street or Esmonde Road Interchange. The majority of tourist trips are expected to access the shared path at Westhaven.

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  •   How were these user numbers estimated?

    We have used the Auckland Cycle Model to estimate commute-to-work, educational, and recreational cycle trips. We have used existing Auckland shared-use paths as a benchmark for determining pedestrian trips, and international examples to evaluate tourist users.

    Our forecasts account for several factors, including times of  day, and week; seasons; visitor numbers; land use forecasts; and Aucklanders’ existing and predicted future travel patterns.  We most recently modelled our figures in late March 2020.  Our modelling reflects the existing mix of bicycle/ e-bikes and pedestrian /e-scooter use.  We recognise that future changes in micro-mobility, such as increasing use of e-scooters or other e-modes, may make long-distance trips across the Northern Pathway more attractive for more people.

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Procurement – to set up an Alliance for the harbour component

Design

  •   The graphics in the brochure do not show as much detail as I would like, i.e. will you separate the pathway for walkers/cyclists?

    Much of the detail in our design is not yet confirmed and as the project progresses, we will release more detailed pictures of what the path will look like.  With regards to how we will manage the layout, speeds and operation of the path with respect to modes, we will not be deciding how to manage modes and speeds until closer to the date that the pathway will open. Micro-mobility is a rapidly changing transport mode and is likely to look very different in three to four years when the Northern Pathway opens.

    Once the Alliance delivery team for the Westhaven to Akoranga section of the path is confirmed later this year, it will further develop the design detail.

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  •   How wide will the path be?

    The pathway across the Harbour Bridge will be five metres wide. The pathway for the land component north of the Harbour Bridge will be four metres wide, except for the section between Onewa Interchange and Esmonde Road, where the pathway narrows to two and a half metres for about 60 metres, as it passes between the cliff face, a listed Pōhutukawa tree, and the motorway.

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  •   Why isn’t there a connection at Exmouth Road?

    There is an informal footpath that people use to walk between Exmouth Road and the footbridge. There is no formal connection included as part of the Northern Pathway scope because the number and spread of access points we are providing works best with existing cycle and walking network. This reserve is also of high cultural significance to local iwi.

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  •   Why are traffic lights part of the preferred option at Esmonde Road?

    The Esmonde Road interchange is the point of intersection with the Akoranga to Constellation section of the Northern Pathway, and so further work to refine this connection will be carried out as that section is developed.

    For now, this has been identified as the preferred option because building large infrastructure or changing the layout too much in this location will limit the options available to the Akoranga to Constellation project team, which has only recently commenced investigations for this section of the Northern Pathway.

    The business case for the Akoranga to Constellation Drive section is currently underway and is due to be complete in early 2021.

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Geotechnical investigations

  •   What is a geotechnical investigation and why are they carried out?

    Geotechnical site investigations between Westhaven and Akoranga began in mid-December 2019.

    A geotechnical investigation involves assessing the physical properties of the soil and rock at particular areas. Geotechnical investigations measure the strength of the ground and is an important part of the information used by the engineering and construction teams as they plan their program of work.

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Akoranga to Constellation Drive

About this project

  •   What is the history of this project?

    A walking and cycling link across the Waitematā Harbour has been supported by Aucklanders and in development for many years. In 2018, the Government handed delivery of this walking and cycling link over to Waka Kotahi for delivery.

    The Northern Pathway meets the Government’s priority to create more active transport choices for Aucklanders and deliver critical missing links in the urban cycle network between the City Centre and North Shore.

    Waka Kotahi has been working with partners, key stakeholders, and speaking with the community regarding the development of the design for the Northern Pathway between Westhaven to Akoranga. This section is currently in the design, consenting and procurement phase.

    In February this year, it was announced that Waka Kotahi had also started work on a Detailed Business Case for the ‘missing link,’ a connection between Akoranga and Constellation Drive. The Akoranga to Constellation section will join Section One from Westhaven to Akoranga with Section Three, which runs between Constellation Drive and Albany. The Constellation Drive to Albany section is already under construction as part of the Northern Corridor Improvements Project.

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  •   What is the aim of this project?

    When the Westhaven to Akoranga and the Constellation Drive to Albany sections of the Northern Pathway are complete, the Auckland cycle network on the mid-North Shore will still be missing a key strategic piece of infrastructure.

    The Akoranga to Constellation Drive section is critical to realise the full benefits of the Northern Pathway. When complete, the Northern Pathway will enable more travel choices and provide a seamless connection for travel by active modes between Central Auckland and Albany.

    The Northern Pathway will help reduce the number of short trips completed by private vehicle as well as support the future growth of the walking and cycling networks on both sides of the harbour to increase the number of healthy and environmentally friendly ways to get around.

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  •   How does this section fit into the Northern Pathway project?

    Section 2 of the Northern Pathway will provide a walking and cycling connection for the North Shore between Akoranga and Constellation Drive. Section 2 will be approximately 7km and link to:

    - Section 1: Westhaven to Esmonde Road/ Akoranga
    - Section 3: Constellation Drive to Albany

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  •   What stage is the Akoranga to Constellation Drive project at?

    The Akoranga to Constellation Drive section of the Northern Pathway is at the initial investigation stage. The project team will complete the detailed business case (DBC) at the end of 2020/ early 2021. The DBC will provide the team more information on:

    - The preferred concept design of the section which will take into account cultural, historical and ecological considerations.
    - An estimate of the cost.
    - Next steps to move to a more detailed design.
    - Likely timeframes for construction based on consenting and funding approval.

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About the route

  •   Which side of the motorway will the path go down?

    At this stage, we have not decided which side of the motorway the route will be on. That is why we’ve opened up for public consultation to capture your thoughts and insights before this decision is made.

    Our assessment is looking at the pathway in segments and the potential west and east connections. What we do know is that the Westhaven to Akoranga pathway will finish on the western side of the motorway, and the Constellation Drive to Albany section begins on the eastern side of the motorway, so there will need to be a crossing where the pathway shifts from one side to the other.

     

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  •   Where will the path cross over the motorway, and how many of these east/west connections will there be?

    At this stage we have not decided where the path will cross over the motorway. We know we will need to cross at some point because the Westhaven to Akoranga pathway will finish on the western side of the motorway, and Constellation Drive to Albany begins on the eastern side of the motorway. We are seeking to minimise the number of west-east crossings so the pathway is as direct as possible, and ideally the pathway will cross the motorway at only one point.

    Potential crossing points include Akoranga Drive, Northcote Road, Wairau Road, Tristram Avenue, Sunnynook Road, Sunset Road, and Constellation Drive.

    We will be sharing our thinking on potential crossings later in the process when a preferred pathway route has been identified.

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  •   How will the pathway cross at intersections and interchanges?

    One of the biggest challenges is managing potential conflicts between people using different modes of transport and balancing the needs of various users where the pathway crosses intersections and interchanges.

    Options we are investigating include crossings at street level (at-grade) or separating the pathway from these locations via bridge or underpass.

    Exactly how the pathway will cross at intersections and interchanges is yet to be determined.

     

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Local connections

Environmental

  •   Will this project impact Smiths Bush?

    Smiths Bush which is located on both sides of the motorway is highly significant for its ecological, landscape, cultural and heritage values.

    Investigations are underway to understand the potential impacts the options for the pathway alignment and design may have on these values, and how any impacts can be avoided, remedied or mitigated as much as possible.

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Accessibility, safety, and user types

  •   Will the pathway be accessible for all?

    The Northern Pathway will provide a healthy and environmentally friendly way to commute to and from work and education, access services, or connect with friends and family. We recognise that accessibility is a key factor, and we need to ensure that the pathway can be used by people, on foot, bike, scooter, wheelchair, or when pushing a pram.

     

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  •   Will the pathway be separated for those travelling on foot or by bike?

    We understand that separation between different modes and speeds is an important safety consideration. But we will not be deciding how to manage modes and speeds until a later date. Micro-mobility is a rapidly changing transport mode and is likely to look very different in three to four years when the Northern Pathway opens.

     

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  •   How wide will the pathway be?

    The Northern Pathway will support communities now and for generations to come and we are mindful that width is a factor in how appealing this will  be for people. We do not yet have this answer but will be sure to make this decision with reference to the widths of the other sections of the Northern Pathway. We will be able to share more information as we progress our work.

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  •   What will the gradients be along the pathway?

    We recognise that a flatter pathway is more appealing to most people.

    The land on either side of the motorway from Akoranga to Constellation Drive does have some steep gradients, and part of the design work in the next phase of the project will be to look at how we can ensure the smoothest possible journey for users within the existing constraints.

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Other

  •   Is this project funded under the New Zealand Upgrade Programme?

    The Westhaven to Akoranga section of the Northern Pathway has been identified as one of the projects which will be delivered with a $360 million investment as part of the New Zealand Upgrade Programme and is the first walking and cycling connection across Waitematā Harbour.

    Unlike the Westhaven to Akoranga Drive section of the Northern Pathway, The Akoranga to Constellation Drive and Constellation Drive to Albany sections of the Northern Pathway are not funded under the New Zealand Upgrade Programme. We are currently working on the business case to support the planning, investment, and project development of the Akoranga to Constellation Drive project.

    Once complete, the business case will be presented to the Waka Kotahi board for funding approval. This funding is likely to come from the National Land Transport Fund. Once funding is secured, we can move to the next stage of project design.

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Constellation Drive to Albany

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