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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s latest public consultation on the Northern Pathway for walking and cycling across the Waitematā Harbour has had a huge response from interested people.

The three-week consultation ended on Sunday 19 April with 1194 submissions through the online survey or email. That’s nearly three times the number of submissions from the project’s last public consultation in August/September. The survey responses were 78% in support of the project. 

Waka Kotahi Senior Manager Project Delivery, Andrew Thackwray, says most of the feedback affirms public calls to ‘just get on with building it’. It’s widely understood that the pathway will offer a safer, cleaner and healthier transport alternative, and connect people to a good range of cycling and walking facilities and communities across the city and North Shore. 

“There were a lot of themes raised in the consultation, which we were expecting. While most people are very pleased with the pathway design refinements, some expressed concern about Waka Kotahi acquiring properties to build the pathway. There were questions about access, parking and safety as well as how we’ll manage cyclists, e-bikes, scooters and pedestrians on the pathway.”

“It’s great that people have come forward with their views and questions. The challenge now for the project team is to respond to those questions as the design is finalised for the pathway that will serve generations of Aucklanders for years to come.

Mr Thackwray says the public consultation itself has been a challenge.

“The high number of submissions is especially pleasing because the COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown from March 26 meant we couldn’t hold public meetings or have face-to-face conversations.” 

“We had to adapt quickly, moving consultation online, over the phone, and through the post. We haven’t done that before and it wouldn’t have been our choice in the past, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to innovate and be agile.”

The project team boosted the online advertising programme, to ensure people were seeing and hearing about the project. As a government agency, we were able to have 10,000 brochures delivered during the lockdown. This helped to drive more people to the website who couldn’t be targeted with online advertising alone.

“Click-through rates for the online advertising have been considerably higher than we’d normally expect.”

Mr Thackwray says that while the route of the Northern Pathway is set, the public consultation was to gather public feedback on refined designs for connections at Westhaven, Princes Street, Sulphur Beach, Onewa Road and Akoranga. 

The pathway will be built as a continuous link at the same level as vehicles on the Auckland Harbour Bridge. On the northern side, it will follow an existing coastal route, with a bridge crossing the motorway to Stafford Road Reserven Northcote.  Once complete, this section of pathway will run from Westhaven to Akoranga and ultimately extend as far as Albany on the North Shore. It will connect to the city’s wider network of paths for walking, cycling and other active modes on both sides of the harbour.

The project team will now analyse the survey feedback, form their responses, and publish a report to the project website. They will also finalise and document the pathway design before Waka Kotahi lodges Notices of Requirement and resource consent applications in mid-2020.

Mr Thackwray says the Northern Pathway project team is working at speed to deliver the Northern Pathway, with the Government investing $360 million in the project as part of the NZ Upgrade Programme.

“It’s important to keep momentum going on the project as infrastructure will play a critical role in the economic recovery of New Zealand after COVID-19.”

Subject to the consenting/approvals process, construction is expected to begin in early 2021 and take around two and a half years.

For more on the Northern Pathway project, go to 

https://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/northern-pathway/(external link)

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