Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter and Wellington Mayor Justin Lester took part in the ceremony led by Taranaki Whānui, which marks the start of a two-year project to improve the coastal route.
The project will see the narrow on-road bike lanes around Evans Bay between Carlton Gore Road and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) replaced with a separate bike path suitable for all ages and abilities, as well as the development of more appealing areas for people on foot.
Over the next 10 months work will be happening at Pt Jerningham, where new sections of seawall will be installed on top of existing foundations, providing more space for people above.
Changes include an improved pedestrian route around the point with new seats, look-out points, better access down to the rocks, decorative lighting poles, bike parking, and the first 800m of the new traffic-free bike path. Work is expected to start the week after Easter.
The Mayor says he is delighted work will soon be under way.
“This is a key section of Tahitai, the commuter and recreational route from the east, which will be part of the future Te Aranui o Pōneke (the Great Harbour Way), and I’m sure will become a very popular feature of the city.
“When completed the 7-kilometre off-road stretch between Miramar and the city will be a tourism and recreation destination for all ages, and both Wellingtonians and tourists alike. I can see this becoming one of New Zealand’s most popular rides and a magnet for the city.”
The journey will be along the wider new paths being developed on Cobham Drive, the new Evans Bay bike path getting under way now, existing shared paths south of NIWA and in Oriental Bay, and the recently completed section of bike path near Freyberg Pool.
Councillor Sarah Free, portfolio leader for walking and cycling, says the plans have drawn on the expertise of engineers and urban designers to come up with something really special and unique for this coastal route, which is very popular with walkers, runners and cyclists of all ages and abilities.
“Electronic counters on the new section of pathway in Oriental Bay recorded 92,361 bike journeys in the first three months of this year, which shows just how well used this new route may be.”
NZ Transport Agency Portfolio Manager Sarah Downs says the Government is committed to encouraging more New Zealanders to choose active transport options, like cycling that reduce our carbon emissions and benefit our health.
“We know that Kiwis are looking for more efficient transport options that are good for them and for their communities. More people on bikes means less congestion in urban centres, reduced emissions, improved public health and, most importantly, more liveable cities.”
The $10 million project is part of the New Zealand Government Urban Cycleways Programme, and is being delivered by Wellington City Council in partnership with the NZ Transport Agency.
Councillors approved the project in March last year, following work by a community working group and public consultation. As detailed designs for sections east of Pt Jerningham are developed, there will be more discussions with local residents in some locations.
What to expect during construction:
- A 30km/h speed limit will be in place at all times in the vicinity of Pt Jerningham while the work happens.
- Between 9am and 4pm, traffic will be down to one lane through the work zone most of the time. The work will involve a crane, diggers and trucks. Outside these hours, including at peak times, traffic lanes will normally operate in both directions. Temporary traffic lights will be installed.
- It will take longer to travel through this area, particularly 9am to 4pm, so people will need to allow extra time or take another route. Weekend work is possible at times.
- People will still be able to walk, run, bike and drive through this area at all times, but will need to take extra care.
The existing on-road bike lanes will be out of action where work is happening, so people on bikes will generally need to share the 30km/h section of road with other traffic.