Back in 2010, when CAA first saw the plans for the future Te Atatu Interchange, we were extremely concerned that the Northwestern Cycleway would have to use four (!) signalised crossings to connect west-east across the much busier interchange / over Te Atatu Road.
We subsequently made this potential degrading of the cycleway’s utility one of our key concerns during CAA’s submissions and participartion in the Board of Inquiry process (see pages 10-11 of our submission at the time).
The Board of Inquiry subsequently consented a design with multiple-stage crossings, but tasked NZTA to investigate the feasibility of bridges or underpasses for cycling connectivity, and if that should prove unfeasible, to optimise the signalised crossings for cycle use as well.
To be honest, we were somewhat sceptical about whether this outcome counted as a “win”. However, we should have trusted NZTA better than that. As they have now agreed we can reveal to you, their feasibility analysis over recent months has identified that:
“we are assuming that the underpass will be feasible based on the work [NZTA] previously shared with [CAA] but are leaving the detailed design of this up to the D&C [Design & Construction] contractor for the interchange project.”
This means that this is now for the design contractor (who will be appointed soon) to work up in more detail, and make happen. It is not the same thing as a “done deal” – but it now seems to have a very good chance of becoming part of the upgraded cycleway!
CAA has seen the concept designs for the underpass, and we are quite stoked. Underpasses get a lot of flak (and sometimes quite rightly so), but it seems this one can not only be made to work, but might actually have potential to become a very good example. Some key features of the concept design we have seen are:
- Relatively wide (~4-5m minimum) to reduce perceived issues with the tunnel
- Crosses directly under Te Atatu Road (unlike the sketch in our original submission)
- Fully straight, and can be seen into for good distances before entering
- Instead of a cycle bridge adding another ~6m vertical distance to climb up from Whau River bridge, the route will now be ~3m lower
- If something makes you decide you’d rather not use it that day, you can still go up to the signalised surface crossings
All in all, this is looking very promising, and all going well, we should still see the high-quality outcome we all agree the Northwestern Cycleway deserves.
Can I hear some cheers for NZTA and the Board of Inquiry, for taking cycling seriously?