Auckland’s Wynyard bridge closure: Free ferries trial to take pedestrians across basin

Free ferries will take pedestrians across Auckland’s Viaduct basin while its bridge remains inoperable.

The 100-metre long Wynyard crossing pedestrian bridge, which opens and closes for boats to pass and pedestrians to cross, has been stuck in the up position and closed to the public since March.

It is unclear when it will reopen.

Eke Panuku, the Auckland Council agency responsible for repairing the bridge, has said it could be out of action for months.

The region’s deputy mayor Desley Simpson has said it is a reputational issue having such a highly visible piece of failed infrastructure, and businesses have reported a drop in turnover so large that they do not have the funds to pay staff.

Under normal conditions, it takes roughly nine minutes to walk from the North Wharf in Wynyard Quarter to the Viaduct, or 12 minutes to travel all the way to the city’s Ferry Building,

The trip is extended to 14 minutes to the Viaduct and 17 to the Ferry Building if the bridge opens to let boats through.

While the bridge is out of service, the journey takes about 18 minutes walking from North Wharf to the Viaduct or 23 to the Ferry Building.

Bus service are available while the bridge is out, with both taking more than 15 minutes to either location.

A report released by Eke Panuku on Thursday detailed a number of alternatives to let pedestrians pass to and from Wynyard Quarter while the bridge remained out of commission.

The option selected for progression was to use Red Boats – small ferries with a capacity of 60 people.

Auckland Transport will be putting on free Red Boat ferries for pedestrians while the Wynyard crossing bridge is inoperable.

They will take passengers between Te Wero Island and Karanga Plaza, on the outward side of the marina, for free.

A trial will begin on 11 May.

The report said a single boat could depart every 30 minutes, with an additional boat providing departures at half that time.

This option, however, was estimated to only move about 1200 passengers a day with a single boat.

“Capacity would be doubled with a second ferry, however, it should be noted that this is only a fraction of normal users of the Wynyard Crossing Bridge,” the report said.

Statistics collected in 2022 showed an average of 6574 pedestrians used the bridge on a typical weekday, while 9094 used it at the weekend.

The bridge lifted about 25 times a day, taking about five minutes each time.

Other options considered included an additional stop on on one of Auckland Transport’s ferry services or a temporary small ferry service within the viaduct.

A meeting was held with Auckland Transport to determine how viable using the existing ferry network would be to fix the issue, creating an additional stop in the outer Viaduct Harbour.

It was concluded that adding to the network in this way was not a feasible option, as it required additional infrastructure and time to implement and would create wide disruption to Aucklanders.

Eke Panuku also put forward two temporary bridge designs as part of the report, though these were deemed unfeasible due to safety concerns and the time they would take to implement – about six or seven months.

One of the configurations for the temporary concrete pontoon bridge suggested a pivoting bridge that would swing open horizontally, allowing boats to pass, while the other was a sliding bridge that pushed backward to let boats through.

The report said only concept level-designs had been completed for the temporary bridges, and putting them in place would require detailed risk assessments and resource consents.

Eke Panuku’s general manager of assets and delivery, Marian Webb, said the trial enabled the agency to test whether or not a temporary small ferry service was a useful addition to getting people in and out of Wynyard Quarter.

“During [the trial] we’ll look at ease of use, public uptake, logistics of moving people across Viaduct Harbour in this way, and the costs associated,” she said.

“Because this service is limited in how many people it can carry at one time, we’ll continue to promote other alternatives like the excellent City Link Bus service, as well as of course walking, cycling, scooting and if travelling by car there’s handy parking at Jellicoe Street carpark.”

Webb said Eke Panuku was open to other viable transport solutions and would continue to support business in Wynyard Quarter through social media, regular updates, and working with affected businesses to promote the precinct.

The existing walking routes around the Viaduct basin remained open.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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