The Jacobs Ladder footbridge spanning Auckland's State Highway 1 motorway has officially been opened by the NZ Transport Agency, providing safe access for pedestrians and cyclists across eight lanes of motorway between St Marys Bay and the harbour.
The footbridge is part of the Victoria Park Tunnel Road of National Significance, which opened to traffic late last year.
This morning’s ribbon-cutting celebration was led by the Government’s Auckland Central MP, Nikki Kaye, together with NZTA staff, elders from the local iwi, Ngati Whatua O Orakei, and community leaders.
The NZTA’s acting State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton, says it is fitting that the final part of the project involved facilities that will directly benefit the local community.
“The Vic Park project has been complex and it has been challenging. Constructing it in the middle of the city has been made a lot easier by the fantastic support we received from the start by our neighbours. Being able to restore this community link to the Waitemata harbour is a fitting final step for the project,” Mr Mutton says.
The covered footbridge with its distinctive design of a Maori fishing net is located near the northern exit of tunnel, and will provide safe access for walkers and cyclists between St Marys Bay and the Westhaven Marina.
Construction on the footbridge was stopped in January after fine lines known as crazing were found in 11 of the 306 acrylic panels used as cladding. Exhaustive tests established that the crazing was caused by an interaction between the adhesive used to fasten artfilm to the acrylic panels.
“The crazing has not deteriorated in the past 10 months and the tests confirm the panels have retained their strength and that there is no safety risk to people using the footbridge or driving under it,” says Mr Mutton.
Today’s opening of the footbridge puts the finishing touch on the $340m Victoria Park Tunnel project. As a Road of National Significance, the Government identified the project as one to produce economic and safety benefits on one of the country’s busiest freight and commuting routes.
Key features of the projects include:-
Work also included the protection of heritage buildings like the Rob Roy Hotel – Auckland’s oldest pub – and the Logan Campbell Free Kindergarten.
The project has just beaten off several international challengers to win the top prize for construction methods awarded by one of the world’s most influential infrastructure organisations, the American-based International Road Federation.
The Victoria Park Alliance, which delivered the project, included the NZTA, Fletcher Construction, Beca, Parsons Brinckerhoff and Higgins. At the peak of construction, 450 people worked on site and scores of New Zealand companies won sub-contracting tenders.
Mr Mutton says that Victoria Park – together with the new viaduct on the Southern Motorway at Newmarket – completes a decade of highway improvements through the Central Motorway Junction (CMJ).
“It’s been a huge decade - full of remarkable innovation and change – to ensure the motorway network contributes to the city’s growth. The improvements through the CMJ deliver more reliable and safer motorway journeys, but also include the preservation of Auckland’s heritage and facilities like the Jacobs Ladder Footbridge – long-term dividends everyone can enjoy whether they drive or walk,” says Mr Mutton.