The NZ Transport Agency has confirmed that its preference for the new cycle and pedestrian path between Petone and Ngauranga is the seaward option.
The shared path, which forms a key section of the Wellington to Hutt Valley Walking Cycling and Resilience Project, will not only provide a safer, easier link for cyclists and pedestrians between Wellington and Hutt Valley, but will also help to protect the road and rail network by acting as a ‘buffer’ in natural events such as storms.
The seaward preference is based on community and stakeholder feedback, advice from the Transport Agency’s technical experts, and the wider benefits that such an option can provide in terms of safety and resilience, along with the visual appeal and enjoyment of having a seaside pathway.
The project is being progressed on behalf of the Government, and will deliver on the Government’s transport goals of making cycling safer, improving access to active travel modes, and fostering economic growth. It will be progressed in partnership with Hutt City Council, Wellington City Council, and Greater Wellington Regional Council.
Transport Agency regional director Central Raewyn Bleakley says the preferred option will provide a high quality, long-awaited pathway that will help to encourage cycling.
“The Transport Agency is working hard to make urban cycling a safer and more attractive transport choice all across the country. Our region is experiencing a real upsurge in cycling, and this project will help to unite Wellington with the Hutt Valley, making it easier for people to travel from one to the other in a healthy, enjoyable and safe way.”
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, a strong advocate for a good walking and cycling link between Hutt City and the Capital, says the seaward route was a good decision for a path and will provide a 20-minute commute for cyclists on a flat route between the two cities.
“The path will attract local and national recreational walkers, runners, fishers, and people on bikes.
“Wellington harbour – Te Whanganui a tara – is a beautiful natural harbour and people deserve full public access,” she says.
Hutt City Mayor Ray Wallace has also welcomed the announcement of the seaward option. “This is an exciting project for the region so we are pleased to see decisions are being made, and work is progressing.”
“I’m glad to see NZTA are considering safety as well as creating an appealing pathway. Resilient transport networks are very important for this region.”
Regional Transport Committee Chair Paul Swain says, “The new seaward side path will be a major step forward for the region. Even now, increasing numbers of intrepid cyclists ride along this part of SH2 each day but when the safe and scenic path is built, I expect we’ll see a huge increase in numbers.
“This path will fill a major gap in the regional walking and cycling network. It connects our two largest cities, making it safer and easier for people to get around the region by bike or on foot.
Ms Bleakley says the seaside option, aside from being more appealing by taking advantage of Wellington’s stunning harbour, will have benefits that extend beyond those who use the pathway.
“We remember how the storm of 2013 saw waves crashing onto the railway and highway, contributing to massive disruption. This pathway will act as a buffer to help protect some of the most critical sections of our transport system from further disruption when Mother Nature strikes.”
Mr Swain says, “With rising sea levels and more severe storm events expected in the future, the path will help protect some of our region’s vital infrastructure, including the railway line used by thousands of Hutt Valley and Wairarapa commuters each day.”
Ms Bleakley says the Transport Agency is grateful to the many people who given their time and energy towards the consultation exercise.
Next steps for the project will be to prepare the necessary consents applications and seek approval to construct a seaside option. Community and stakeholder support will be crucial if the project is to get consent to reclaim the foreshore.
The proposed cycleway path will be 3m wide, with 1m wide shoulders on either side. Further work is being done to confirm the width of the overall platform that it will be built on to accommodate maintenance and rail requirements in the long term.
The project will connect with other proposed cycling improvements, including sections between Petone and Melling and Ngauranga and Wellington CBD, the northern and southern ends of the full Walking, Cycling and Resilience project. These sections are being funded as part of the Government’s Urban Cycleways Programme.
Construction on the Petone to Ngauranga section of the project is due to begin in 2019, but partners are looking at opportunities to align construction of this section with the construction programme for the adjoining Urban Cycleway Programme sections.
The project will be designed to synchronise with proposals for a new Petone Interchange, also under consideration as part of the Petone to Grenada Link Road.
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