The NZ Transport Agency has re-confirmed its commitment to the completion of the final 5km stage of the shared cycling/ walking path from St Leonards to Port Chalmers.
The Transport Agency updated the Chalmers Community Board on the project this week. Journey Manager Graeme Hall said it was flagged back in February that more affordable solutions were needed to finish the final section of the path, after the cost of the current design came in at well over the $6-10 million budgeted.
The Transport Agency’s Southern Business Unit Manager Ian Duncan says the Agency’s desire to see the path completed in its entirety hasn’t changed, but the design has to change, to ensure the project gets across the finish line. “This will be later than originally planned, as new project plans have to be prepared and public feedback sought on these. This, plus land purchases and consenting requirements, means construction isn’t likely to start until at least 2018,” he said.
Mr Duncan said the last kilometre of the path is likely to involve the widening and enhancement of the existing footpath from Sawyers Bay to Port Chalmers, a narrow footpath currently used by school children.
“Given the substantial cost involved with the proposed reclamation and rail realignment option at Mussel Bay, it is unlikely to go ahead. But enhancing the existing footpath, which we know is being well used already, to a shared path would deliver a much greater safety benefit for existing path users.
“This has the added benefit that people walking or cycling between Sawyers Bay and Port Chalmers will not need to cross the highway, although cyclists or pedestrians beyond Sawyers Bay will need to do so. Two centre refuge islands would be included to make that crossing easier and safer.”
Options are still being investigated for Blanket Bay, including finding ways to reduce the cost of the causeway option, or finding alternative alignment. Further geotechnical information is needed for the Roseneath cutting section of the path.
Mr Duncan said the project team would update the Chalmers Community Board again in July or August, and feedback would be sought on a new design toward the end of 2016.
More than a year ago the Transport Agency started designing the final stage of the shared walking and cycling path linking St Leonards and Port Chalmers. This 5km extension to the shared path will provide an alternative and much safer route for pedestrians and cyclists to State Highway 88 between Dunedin and Port Chalmers.
Finding the safest route away from traffic for cyclists and pedestrians is difficult given the harbour edge location of the highway and rail line. In 2015, events were held by the Transport Agency to get a better understanding of what the future users wanted from the final section of the path and the future design further refined as a result of this feedback. The Transport Agency continues to work with its key stakeholders, KiwiRail and the Dunedin City Council on this project and aims to keep the community and cycling groups informed.