A cycleway rises in the east… our first peek at GI-Tamaki

Do you feel that we’ve been having a biking Christmas each month, lately?

Think about it. We’ve had the the national and international awards for the Pink Path, the spectacular growth on cycling routes all around it, the rapid delivery of Quay St and its opening last month, and the sod-turning near Lincoln Rd to extend the NW cycleway towards Westgate. It all makes for an exhilarating cascade of biking goodies.

The next goodie under the tree will be Stage 1 of the big new eastern route that will mirror the NW cycleway: the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive shared path. Construction of the first stage, a 1.4km stretch from St John’s Rd to Merton Rd is well advanced, and due for opening in late September.

On Wednesday, AT and NZTA Project Managers took Bike Auckland and the Orakei Local Board for a walkover.

We started at the project site office, behind the Sunhill Garden Centre on St John’s Rd. Our first view of the path was really impressive. Although it’s the steepest section of the whole route (with a gradient of 8%), we could see that it has been tricky to avoid this ‘lift’ at the end, given the level change between the start and end of the route. The good news is, it’s quite short and designed as an easy sweeping curve.

We asked about the metal fencing and were told it was chosen to resist pressure from the horses grazing in the adjoining paddock!

The path is 6m from fence to fence: 4m of concrete surface, and 1m of planting on each side. (The concrete will widen to 5m for a short section at St John’s Rd.) The plants will be flush with the level of the path, and have been chosen to avoid the maintenance issues caused by the greenery obstructing the Grafton Gully and the NW Cycleways.

After inspecting the top section, we walked down the still gravelled section of the path, enjoying the wide views to the south.

GIPathdownhillviewWe turned a bend and were stopped in our tracks by a spectacular 10m high embankment, built to ease the gradient in the mid-upper section of the route.

GI to Tamaki Walkover 10
The slopes of the embankment will be covered with planting fabric to soften the visual impact.

You’ll notice the new fences built at the rear of the residential properties on Felton Matthew Ave. The owners were all offered gates for direct access to the path, but surprisingly few had taken them up.

As a woman who seldom hesitates to ride at night, I felt good about the number of houses that overlook this section of the path. The smart carefully-directed lights will also add to the security of night-time path users.

Here are two views from the midpoint of the cycleway, near Fletcher’s factory and private entranceway being used for construction access. First, below, is the uphill view to the north.

L-R Aaron Hutching (AT), Barb Cuthbert and Tim Duguid (Bike Auckland), Steve Patton, and Hendrik Hilhorst

Now, before you mention the apparent ‘bumps’, I’ll fess up: these are not a mistake, nor an optical illusion: the cycleway path includes a few carefully planned short flat sections here, a series of mini ‘terraces’. This feature has been created to make the route friendly for wheelchair use, and to slow cycle speeds on this long downhill run. (The SkyPath team tell us the same feature has been included on their project for the same reasons.)

The photo below shows the opposing southern view, with the earthworks that have been completed behind the industrial properties in Felton Matthew Ave. While we didn’t walk all the way, the remaining section of the route to Merton Road is in a similar stage of development, ready for a bit more finishing work before the concrete path is completed.

GI to Tamaki walkover 9
Enthusing about the concrete to come!

You’ll see there was lots of chat as we walked the route with the project management crew. I was delighted to find  that everyone I spoke to from AT, NZTA, the consultants MWH and the contractors Broadspectrum) had wide smiles and clearly shared our passion and pride in the project.

I’m a planner who is married to an engineer who worships concrete, so it’s been a big feature of our many family building projects. I can’t wait to show him the classy concrete surfaces on this Stage 1, as they demonstrate that the project is driven by high levels of dedication and care.

Keep it up, team – we’re excited and impressed by your progress. Roll on opening day in late September!

PS I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but I hear that the some of the locals are so keen to try the cleanly- finished smooth downhill rides, they’re throwing their bikes over the gates in the weekend to get their share of biking pleasure. Talk about pent-up demand – we can’t wait to see the official numbers once this is open!

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