While people at the Grafton Gully Cycleway opening were (deservedly) congratulating each other on the achievement, I joked to several at the event that – with the ribbon cut – the path was now “old news” to CAA. We already had our sights on future projects – such as our suburban town centre pilot project, or the Nelson Street Cycleway. So it’s time for a bit of an update on that latter project.
Since our original proposal took imaginations by storm a few months past, a lot of work has already gone into it. NZTA in particular took the project and ran with it – but Auckland Transport wasn’t going to be outdone, and has since decided that rather than do a short-distance “Half-Nelson” cycleway to Cook or Wellesley Street, the path would go all the way to the waterfront. A “Full Nelson”, you’d say – during the same timeframe. That’s the kind of surprise we like!
Not quite as happy was the news that on closer study of the structural, property and geography constraints, most of the ways to get TO the old Nelson Street motorway off-ramp proved unfeasible, certainly for an on-the-quick project like this. Access from Day Street was constrained by the relatively narrow one-way nature, and the lack of publicly owned land from which a connecting bridge could be launched. Access directly down from K’Road would have required significant works on the overbridge, as the bridge’s sides are structural elements, and a ramp directly down from it onto the old motorway on-ramp could also constrain emergency use of vehicles on the old ramp. Access from West Terrace or Galatos Street wasn’t possible due the very high vertical drop in tight conditions.
Now, none of the above would be fatal flaws that could not be worked around somehow – but not in the time and budgets available. Thankfully, there is an option which, while somewhat less direct for K’Road users, still ticks all the key boxes – South Street, as you can see in NZTA’s sketch shown at the top right.
The option chosen by NZTA (with our support) will require a longer bridge (but is still easier to do than others, as there is space for a new bridge pier to support part of it). As such a substantial structure, it will likely be a permanent design from the start rather than a “bailey bridge” or similar. Though it won’t necessarily be a curved truss bridge like in the NZTA sketch, we are pleased to hear that NZTA have already hired a designer for the bridge.
Access to it will be via a cycleway NZTA and AT will build along Canada Street, and we are also discussing appropriate ways of providing for cycling on East Street, so it links more directly with K’Road after all. Overall, the solution is slightly worse for K’Road connections (we’re still hoping for a Day Street link some time in the future) but better for cyclists riding from Newton area, from Dominion Road or from the Northwestern Cycleway – as these will not have to climb up to K’Road ridge first (South Street is several meters lower).
So overall, good progress has been made – and we are meeting with AT in a short time to discuss progress on the on-street route north of the ramp to the waterfront, and hope we’ll be able to talk more about that section in a while.