Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has welcomed the decision by an Expert Consenting Panel to approve the Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-One (Ngauranga to Petone) section of Te Ara Tupua - the shared path connecting Wellington and Lower Hutt.
The project was considered under the Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act and is the first Waka Kotahi project to be approved under the legislation.
Waka Kotahi Director of Regional Relationships Emma Speight says the decision gives certainty to the design of the project, which will provide a safer and more connected walking and cycling path between Wellington and Lower Hutt along the harbour’s coastal edge, away from highway traffic.
“Te Ara Tupua will make cycling, walking and running between Wellington and the Hutt Valley a safe and attractive option for more people. By 2030 we estimate around 2,200 weekday cycle trips on the new path – more than three times the number of cycle trips made on State Highway 2 today.
“This will be the Wellington region’s largest ever walking and cycling project, made even more complex by the need to work in the harbour’s coastal environment. The consent decision reflects the hard work by Waka Kotahi and our partners over the last few years to ensure we get the right environmental outcomes as part of this essential transport link.”
The project is expected to support approximately 330 jobs, counting those directly employed by the project and in businesses providing supplies and services to the project.
Te Ara Tupua Mana Whenua Steering Group chairperson Kim Skelton also welcomed the decision.
“As representatives of Taranaki Whānui, we have worked in close partnership with Waka Kotahi over the last 18 months. Working together, we have created a design that speaks directly about our stories of identity and our values as iwi mana whenua, and which acknowledges our history, our tupuna and our significant sites. The vision we have developed for Honiana Te Puni Reserve is a prime example of this.
“The consent decision marks the end of one phase of the project, and signals a green light for the next. We are looking forward to strengthening our partnership with Waka Kotahi, and making sure those same values, and our kaitiaki approach, are upheld during construction of the Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-One path,” Kim Skelton says.
Ms Speight says the support of Wellington City Council, Hutt City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, KiwiRail and the Department of Conservation has greatly benefited the project.
“Our team looks forward to continuing to work closely with our council partners, KiwiRail and the Department of Conservation on this project which will be a wonderful asset to the region.
“We also thank the many groups who have supported us and provided input to the project to date, including local walking and cycling advocates, environmental organisations and the Great Harbour Way Trust.”
Alongside the consenting phase, Waka Kotahi has been working to select an alliance partner, a team of designers and builders, to support us through the next phase of the project.
If implementation funding is approved, the first enabling work on the project could begin in mid-2021. Work to complete the project will take approximately three years.