The country has gone ape with cycleways being built throughout the country.
In Auckland a disused motorway off-ramp is about to get a new lease on life as a bike path. BY MARY SEARLE BELL.
MOST AUCKLANDERS HAVE forgotten it’s even there, but the old Nelson Street off-ramp has been sitting unused for several years now after it became surplus to requirements. In 2012, State Highway 1 through Auckland’s central motorway junction was rejigged – a tunnel was built beneath Victoria Park and the road widened from two lanes to three, northbound. For those travelling south, the old northbound overbridge was repurposed for southbound traffic, boosting the number of lanes to four and making the Nelson Street off-ramp redundant.
Now, that off-ramp will soon be in use again. This time by cyclists.
Auckland Transport is working together with the NZ Transport Agency on a number of central cycling routes that will ultimately link together, providing people on bikes with easier and safer access to and from the city centre. The Nelson Street cycleway will provide an alternative route between Upper Queen Street and the CBD and waterfront, as well as link to the Northwestern and Grafton Gully cycleways.
Brett Gliddon, the Transport Agency’s Auckland and Northland highway manager, says this will give cyclists more choice and better, safer connections to, from and within the city centre.
The project is being delivered in two phases.
The first phase is currently under construction and is expected to open later this year. It will see the construction of a bridge from Canada Street, connecting with the old Nelson Street motorway off-ramp and continuing as a separated two-way cycleway along the road on the western side of Nelson Street to Victoria Street. This section will link with the existing shared path on Upper Queen Street Bridge. Intersection improvements are currently underway and the NZTA hopes they will be completed by October.
Hawkins Construction is building the cycleway from Canada Street to Union Street. Key to this is the construction of the 160-metre-long bridge that will connect Canada Street and the old Nelson Street motorway off-ramp.
The bridge will be a seven-span steel structure, with an effective width of 3.5 metres. It will be painted with a high sheen black finish.
Subcontractor Construction Landscapes (CLL) has already placed most of the seven piles for the bridge. These will form the base for the piers of the bridge. Pier 1 has a 1200mm diameter pile and the rest are 900mm in diameter.
The bridge is being built in Hamilton by another subcontractor, PFS. When complete, the bridge will be transported to Pukekohe for painting and then brought to site in sections overnight during a motorway closure.
Each section will be placed on purpose-built concrete pads next to the motorway before being lifted onto the piers. Three sections will be lifted from Canada Street and the other four will be completed from the motorway.
Construction of the cycle path from the off-ramp down to Victoria Street is being undertaken by Auckland Transport and was due to get underway in late July.
Next year phase two will be built and will extend the separated cycleway from Victoria Street down to Quay Street and will also provide a link along Pitt Street to join Karangahape Road and Union Street and completion is expected midway through next year.
The route will connect with and expand the Auckland Cycle Network and align with the long-term vision of the NZTA and Auckland Transport to build world-class cycling infrastructure that promotes cycling as a safe and convenient mode of transport.
Big spend on
Across the country, cycleways have been given a major financial boost. In June the government announced $296 million in funding for regional cycling projects. It will be invested across 41 projects in urban centres over the next three years, to establish cycling as an integral part of the transport network.
Among those to benefit are Hamilton, Tauranga and Rotorua.
Hamilton will receive $3 million which will go towards its $4 million Western Rail Trail, a 2.7-kilometre off-road shared path that will connect the south-western suburbs of Hamilton with the city centre, using the rail corridor.
In the Bay of Plenty, an injection of $3.8 million will go towards completing the remaining sections of the Tauranga cycle network, and developing the proposed 16-kilometre Omokoroa-to-Tauranga scenic cycleway.
Rotorua will spend its $1.5 million in funding developing its $5.52 million Cy-Way project, a network of 23.7 kilometres of cycling and walking paths that will connect the central city and forest mountain bike trails.
Working with various local authorities, the NZ Transport Agency anticipates the total investment in cycling over the next three years will be around $380 million to $400 million, delivering more than 250 kilometres of new urban cycleways and greater network connectivity.
Not everyone is a fan of allocating government money to cycleways however. The New Zealand First party says urban cycleways are not the priority for provincial New Zealand.
Ron Mark, New Zealand First local government spokesperson, says recent floods caused $120 million worth of damage and, despite Minister for Transport Simon Bridges reportedly estimating roads will need up to $60 million to fix, “he has said no to further government support to help repair the very things jobs and exports depend upon.
“Incredibly, Mr Bridges and his National Government will not find $6 million to reinstate the Gisborne-Napier rail line, but he’s all too happy to drop $9.52 million on urban cycleways in Napier, Hastings and Gisborne instead. We don’t get the logic and neither will the voters.”
In contrast, Cycling Advocates Network interim project manager Will Andrews says, “This is awesome. It’s forward-thinking, clever groundwork by the Prime Minister and Minister Bridges and will boost the liveability of every town it touches.”
He says he hopes it will be accompanied by rapid training of engineers in cycleway design, and by education of all road users in how to share road space.
“There will still be a lot of routes where cyclists share with motor vehicles, so it’s important to keep improving the environment – especially in CBDs – with low speed limits and good junction design.”