Cobham Drive protection work underway

14 May 2020

Coastal protection work getting under way this week will help strengthen the most vulnerable section of Cobham Drive from erosion and storm damage – and provide more places for penguins to nest.

Over the next five months, a new rock bank – or revetment – will be built between the two roundabouts at Troy Street and Calabar Road. It will help protect the road to the airport, and the new walking and bike paths, which are nearing completion.

The 310m-long sloping rock bank will be like the one at the Evans Bay Parade end of Cobham Drive built in 2006, and others around the city including at Breaker Bay and Dorrie Leslie Park.

The nooks and crannies in these banks provide more secure and appealing places for kororā (little blue penguins) to nest and moult than eroding areas of foreshore. The work will also have other enviromental benefits – as old demolition materials including brick, concrete and steel will be removed.

Deputy Mayor Sarah Free says Cobham Drive is the main route to the east, and in normal times, one of the first things many people see as they travel into the city. “It is wonderful to see it not only becoming a safer place to walk and cycle, but being cleaned up, protected, and transformed into an area we can be proud of.”

Cr Jenny Condie, Associate Portfolio Leader for Transport, says the section of coastline being strengthened bears the brunt of northerly storms. “This protection work will make this key transport and recreational route more resilient to sea-level rise and the extreme weather patterns we can expect with climate change. It is great it can be done in conjunction with the development of new paths that will help encourage more sustainable ways to travel.”

Penguins will be beginning to look for nesting sites soon, but the contractors will be working on small sections at a time, and continuing to take the utmost care. They are working closely with the Department of Conservation, and will put in some temporary nesting boxes further along Cobham Drive. Detours for people on foot and bikes are in place around all the work zones.

At times, it may be necessary to wait or give way to others to maintain safe distancing restrictions. Please be kind and patient, and heed signs and any instructions from the contractors.

About half of the rock (more than 2000 tonnes) has already been stockpiled on site in preparation, and the rest will be brought in as the work progresses. To minimise disruption, most of the rock is being delivered during the night or early hours of the morning. Staff are closely monitoring the site entrance whenever trucks are coming and going, but people on bikes, or out for walks or runs, should slow down and take extra care in this area.

Once the coastal protection work is complete at the end of September, the adjacent construction compound will be removed, and the car park area redeveloped and reopened. Finishing touches will include planting thousands of hardy coastal native plants.

The new walking and bike paths, landscaping around the sculptures and beach areas, and the coastal protection work is being done in partnership with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

Images below: Downer construction workers Ronaldo Rivera and Joel De Vera building penguin nesting boxes.