The NZTA are starting public engagement today on Seapath, the walking and cycling path alongside the Northern Motorway from Esmonde Rd to the Harbour Bridge, where it will link in with Skypath – which the NZTA have also been tasked with building. When both are complete, they will transform the opportunities for riding a bike on the North Shore.
The public engagement is to feed into a detailed business case for the project due to be completed by the end of the year. It comes over two years after we last heard about the project, a consultation which showed overwhelming support with over 95% of the more than 2,600 submissions in favour. The NZTA say that in the intervening years they have:
refined our proposed route and given more thought to how it could be built. Further investigation has helped us better understand a range of geographical, environmental and technical considerations and identify how the project might respond to meet these challenges.
The route is shown below. It hugs the land side of the motorway which is primarily to make it easier to construct (has less impact on the coastal environment), has better connections to local roads and keeps people, dogs and pests away from endangered Dotterels that nest in Shoal Bay east of the motorway. Although perhaps the project needs a new name given it’s not by the sea.
The previous consultation showed a path with a few detours in it, such as to get around the Stafford Rd and Onewa Rd ramps. It’s not clear if these have been addressed or if the red line is just the high level desired route.
On the path itself, the NZTA say this about it under the title “What would SeaPath look like?”
SeaPath is a shared walking and cycling path, for use by people of all ages and abilities; whether on foot, bike, scooter, wheelchair, pushchair, or skateboard. It will comprise a mix of materials, such as concrete path and raised wooden boardwalk, the latter proposed for many of the coastal sections. The look and feel will be similar to other shared walking and cycling paths adjacent to motorway routes, such as the Northwestern Cycleway. There will be opportunities to incorporate design elements along the route to reflect the area’s rich cultural heritage and natural environment.
SeaPath will be up to four metres wide. For some sections along the route we are balancing the requirement for a wide path with the benefits of directness. This might mean that the path narrows in places, or it could ascend or divert to where it can be built wider. These challenges are faced in the area between Onewa Interchange and Heath Reserve, constrained between the motorway and cliff face.
At some locations where we need to cross a busy motorway on-ramp or off-ramp, we are considering different options to divert the path inland to where a safer crossing can be created.
I think it would be preferable to design the path to be wider than 4m as like the Northwestern Cycleway, I can see this being quite popular for a range of activities. And if space is an issue, perhaps the NZTA could make more by narrowing the motorway lanes slightly to free some more up.
As the diagram eariler explains, it appears the NZTA are now looking at delivering the project in two stages, the first from Esmonde to Onewa and the second from Onewa to the Harbour Bridge. This makes sense and should hopefully make it easier to get started sooner.
It’s not clear if an online survey will be used, so if you want to provide feedback and you have the ability to do so, below are the times and locations with the first one this morning at Akoranga
- Wednesday, 15 August – 7am–9am – Akoranga Bus Station
- Wednesday, 15 August 11am–1pm – AUT North Campus
- Saturday, 18 August 9am–10.30am – Northcote Town Centre
- Saturday, 18 August 11.30am–1pm Highbury Town Centre
- Saturday, 18 August 2pm–3.30pm Beach Haven Town Centre
- Tuesday, 21 August 7pm–9pm Queen Street, Northcote
Finally, on Skypath, they say they’re also working on a detailed business case for the project.