The Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter has announced that the Ngauranga to Petone section of the Wellington to Hutt Valley pathway is a major step closer, following a green light from the NZ Transport Agency Board to proceed to the next phase of the project.
The decision confirms the Transport Agency's commitment to a five-metre-wide, sea-side path for the Ngauranga to Petone section of the Wellington to Hutt Valley Walking and Cycling Link and gives the Agency the green light to complete the next stage of work required to consult on new designs and apply for resource consent.
"This project would represent the most significant expansion of public access to Wellington's waterfront in decades," said Julie Anne Genter.
"It will open up a part of the coastline that's been locked off for too long. Right now anyone walking or cycling this route is forced to use a narrow, uneven path or ride along the edge of State Highway 2. That's unacceptable.
"A five-metre-wide shared path will give a safe, dedicated route for people to walk, cycle or scooter between our two biggest centres.
"The project will also play a significant role in making the region's transport network more resilient. The sea-side path will protect the rail line and road from erosion and damaging storm surges and provide an alternative access route for emergency vehicles in an event where SH2 is blocked," said Julie Anne Genter.
Transport Agency Director of Regional Relationships Emma Speight says: "The project was initially planned as a three-metre-wide path, but the Agency is now working towards a five-metre-wide path. This will provide a higher standard walking and cycling facility along the coastal edge between Petone and Ngauranga.
"The Agency is currently refining the design for the path, including its recreational, ecological and landscape features, and special consideration is being given to how to provide access to the coastal edge after decades of being inaccessible. Other considerations are providing seabird habitat, coastal planting, and areas to allow for recreation and appreciation of the coastline.
"Before applying for consent, the Agency will be seeking community feedback on the design and seeking public support for the project. An application for a resource consent is expected in late 2019 – mid-2020, with the consent process expected to take up to two years.
"Our focus now is on finalising our design and ensuring we've prepared as best we can for the resource consent process. The public has been asking for this path for decades, and we want to ensure we're doing all we can to finally deliver it," Ms Speight says.
"We know that the public is looking for more efficient transport options that are good for them and the community.
"Earlier today, a blessing was held to mark the start of construction of the Evans Bay pathway which follows the opening of the Oriental Bay cycleway in December last year. These are all important steps in developing a safe cycling network across the Wellington region."
(With Inputs from New Zealand Government Press Release)