Construction started today on the Westgate pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Northwestern Motorway (State Highway 16) in west Auckland.
The 209 metre long bridge with a 3 metre-wide shared path for pedestrians and cyclists will provide a safer connection between the Manutewhau Walk Reserve in West Harbour and the Westgate Shopping Centre in Massey.
"We acknowledge that it's been a long wait, but we're really pleased work is now underway to construct and deliver this bridge to help make the community safer," says the NZTA's State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker. "When we finish, this link will help ensure everyone has a safer journey - whether they are walking or cycling across the bridge, or driving on the increasingly busy motorway below."
Children and adults regularly used SH16 as an illegal short cut to the shopping centre, putting themselves and motorway users at risk. A schoolboy died after being hit by a vehicle while crossing the motorway in 2004.
Auckland Transport says the bridge will be an important feature of the west Auckland community.
"As roading space becomes increasingly constrained in Auckland, we need to acknowledge the right of all to share the road. Overbridges ensure access and safety, particularly on busy motorways, for those on foot and cycles," says Auckland Transport spokesman Wally Thomas.
The NZTA worked closely with local community leaders for eight years to secure funding and approval for the bridge.
Auckland Council's Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, and representatives from the NZTA and Auckland Transport joined schoolchildren from West Harbour School this morning to celebrate the start of construction with a tree planting ceremony in the reserve.
The $6M bridge is a joint NZTA and Auckland Transport project and is scheduled to be completed in March 2013.
The bridge will feature ramps at each end for mobility users and special lighting to improve safety at night. The bridge will be painted yellow, complementing the nearby yellow Clarks Lane Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge, also designed by Jasmax as part of the recently opened SH18 Hobsonville Motorway. The Manutewhau Walk Reserve will be enhanced with landscaping, and old pine trees will be replaced with native plantings.
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