The striking Clarks Lane bridge spanning the NZ Transport Agency's Upper Harbour Motorway project in Auckland's west was officially opened today, combining modern day access for cyclists and walkers across the highway with an artistic glimpse into the region's past.
The Minister of Transport, Hon. Steven Joyce, led the ribbon cutting celebration accompanied by executives from the NZTA and its project contractors, Cr Linda Cooper from Waitakere City Council, and representatives from local iwi.
Already known locally as the “canary bridge”, the striking bright yellow 60 metre-long structure is the centrepiece of the NZTA’s extensive urban design programme for the motorway.
“It shows that there is more to motorways than concrete and bitumen,” says the NZTA’s Regional Director for Auckland, Wayne McDonald. “The footbridge not only provides safe access for pedestrians and cyclists, it’s also providing a modern day link with Hobsonville’s past.”
Tiles made by local artists from a variety of clays that were part of an extensive pottery and brick-making industry in the area have been laid on the deck of the bridge, and in the new year people will walk and cycle on a ceramic pathway as they approach it.
Mr McDonald says the NZTA has worked closely with Waitakere City and local artists on the bridge design.
“It’s very much a local project to be proud of, but one that will be enjoyed by everyone – those driving along the motorway when it’s finished and those who will walk and cycle over it,” says Mr McDonald.
Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey says the bridge shows his council’s ongoing vision of integrating art into major infrastructure projects.
"This is a beautiful new landmark for the West,” he says. “It is a major milestone for a vital motorway link between the North Shore and the West and another landmark for the 18 year art renewal project in Waitakere. The council's art team, artists and NZTA have shown us through this project what can be achieved when we work together."
Today’s celebration also marks the official unveiling of the Sinton Windows sculpture alongside the footbridge. The work by Waitakere artist John Radford includes windows preserved from the original Sinton House homestead in Hobsonville, which could not be relocated at the start of the motorway project.
The Upper Harbour Motorway project – incorporating the State Highway 18 Hobsonville Deviation and State Highway 16 Brigham Creek Extension - is part of the strategic Western Ring Route, which will create an alternative motorway route to SH1 and help ease congestion through central Auckland.
The six kilometre, four-lane Hobsonville motorway is the last section to be completed of the SH18 motorway project connecting the Upper Harbour Bridge and Greenhithe sections at the eastern end and the Northwestern Motorway [SH16] to the west. The project also includes a three kilometre extension of SH16 to a new roundabout at Brigham Creek Road. The project cost is $220m.
Mr McDonald says the project will deliver significant benefits to a rapidly developing region of Auckland when it is completed in 2012.
“Congestion and noise on local roads will be reduced, travel times will be quicker, and the connections between Waitakere and Albany will be smoother and safer,” he says.
For more information on the SH18 Hobsonville Deviation and SH16 Brigham Creek Extension project, phone 0800 520 202 or visit www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/upperharbourmotorway(external link)