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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

A new shared path linking Wellington to the Hutt Valley is a step closer, with the Waka Kotahi Board approving funding of up to $311.9 million (incl. contingency) for the project.

The funding is to build the Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-One section of Te Ara Tupua – a walking and cycling connection running from the Ngauranga Gorge to Petone.

Robyn Elston, Waka Kotahi National Manager System Design, says it creates a crucial active transport link between Wellington and Lower Hutt. The project’s design will also increase protection for the rail line and State Highway 2, strengthening Wellington’s strategic transport links.

“This funding decision means we can sign up to construction and get this important project underway”.

Robyn Elston says Waka Kotahi now has a high level of certainty over the project’s cost, which will be higher than the original estimates.

“The cycleway is technically complex to build, and like other large construction projects in New Zealand and around the world, it is affected by the inflationary pressures of a constrained labour market, supply chain disruptions, the increased cost of materials and the impacts of COVID-19. These factors are resulting in increased costs on all of our projects. For example, the price of diesel, a key input in construction projects, has almost doubled in the last year. Another key road construction material, bitumen, is at a ten-year high. Steel is also driven by similar international demand and shipping constraints, where the local price has risen by more than 30% over the past year.”

Te Ara Tupua Mana Whenua Steering Group Chair, and Taranaki Whānui representative Kim Skelton, says the funding decision is significant.

“Since the interim Alliance contract was signed at Te Tatau o Te Pō marae, we have worked alongside Waka Kotahi and Te Ara Tupua Alliance, developing the design and delivery approach. Now that this decision has been made, we are eager to move to the next stage, which will create business and employment opportunities for our people and increase the visibility of our historic pā sites and cultural connections to the harbour,” Ms Skelton says.  

Waka Kotahi Regional Manager System Design, Kesh Keshaboina, says the project will bring huge benefits for people who want to travel between Wellington and Lower Hutt by bike or on foot. As an iconic harbour-side path on Te Whanganui-a-Tara, it is also expected to be a draw-card for tourists and locals looking to enjoy the capital’s stunning harbour environment.

“It is the missing link in a future Wellington to Hutt Valley cycling spine and will provide a far safer option than what is currently available. A safe and separated route will encourage more people to use active transport both recreationally and for their commute, which is great for peoples’ health and well-being and of course better for the environment.”

More announcements on Te Ara Tupua are due in the coming weeks.