The Leftfield Bridge, Auckland

DATE 

2021 

This is a visionary project born out of profound frustration with an overly long protracted planning process for a much needed multi-modal solution to provide greater access across the central Waitematā. On what is arguably the most conspicuous and most expensive public projects, Landscape Architect and Urban Designer Garth Falconer of Reset Urban Design has demonstrated the worthiness of the input of landscape professionals and that we can be proactive agents for positive and responsible change. 

From 2013 to 2018 Garth was the lead designer on the community driven Sky Path project that provided walking and cycling access across the Waitematā on the eastern side of the Auckland Harbour Bridge (AHB) using innovative lightweight composite material. Thoroughly detailed and peer-reviewed the scheme achieved Resource Consent, approved through the Environment Court and was voted Auckland’s most favourite project and endorsed by the Labour Party . Post election however when the New Zealand Transport Agency / Waka Kotahi took the project over to implement. They quickly dismissed the scheme and team to then generate their own series of stand alone steel bridges which met with derision and ultimately were dismissed by Government. 

In response Garth provided a comprehensive analysis of the standing solutions and generated another feasible alternative. 

There is little argument that we need an additional Waitematā crossing and soon, not only to provide greater resilience as an emergency back up, but also to expand our movement capacity and options. Particularly providing walking and cycling access across the central harbour which has been denied ever since the slimmed down version of the Auckland Harbour Bridge opened in 1959.

With this complex situation that has evolved over the planning for an additional connection we have to understand the high pressure predicament the NZTA/Waka Kotahi are in pitched between competing interests and constraints but there is simply little case for proceeding with a separate pedestrian/cycle bridge and a tunnel. 

The Leftfield Bridge proposal is presented as a positive contribution to a broader discussion on this most important publicly funded project. The challenge now is for all of us including public, Waka Kotahi, Iwi , local and central government to come together to agree on and support the best way possible for an additional crossing of the Waitematā for the 21st century.

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