All eyes are on the Waterview Shared Path – with the Alford St Bridge over Oakley Creek opening today, and the rest of the project due for completion in ‘late winter’ (which we hope means by the end of August).

The spectacular new bridge linking Unitec to Waterview at Alford St and Great North Road will form a powerful new connection between the quiet, self-contained suburb and the green and lively campus to its east.

Sure, you could always walk from Waterview to Unitec via the Oakley Creek walkway – but it’s not a direct route, difficult if not impossible for those on bikes or other kinds of wheels because it involves stairs, and unwelcoming after dark for most people.

The current shortest distance between two points involves stairs and a roundabout route through creek and bush. The new bridge will shave two thirds of the distance and at least as much time, and offers safe 24/7 access for those on foot and on bikes.

The new bridge, smooth, artfully decorated and beautifully lit, sails directly over the creek on piers 16m high. Especially for the thousands of people who live in Waterview, this will transform the way people navigate between their neighbourhood and nearby destinations.

Alford St Bridge, June 2017: a direct link between Waterview and Unitec.

And, once the rest of the pathways are open (including two other bridges!), an expansive biking and walking network will begin to connect Waterview, Mt Albert, Pt Chevalier, Avondale, and beyond into Mt Roskill, providing increased connectivity for everyone passing through. With potential development planned for the Unitec campus, and intensification of housing around the Point Chevalier shopping district, the benefits of these walking and cycling connections will become even more obvious in decades to come.

Some of you may have glimpsed bits of the path in progress, especially where it intersects main roads. Here’s how it all fits together…

The enterprising Stuart Young went bike-exploring the other day through the reserves and back streets, taking photos along the length of the pathway in progress (as close as practicable and safe). Ride along on a photo-story preview of what we’ll be riding on in a month or thereabouts…

Approaching the Alford St Bridge from Great North Road, Waterview. (Locals will know that  just behind you in the above photo is a crossing that is deeply unfriendly to those on foot and any kind of wheels, especially wheelchairs – we are very glad to hear Auckland Transport plans to rebuild the approach to that crossing.)
Alford Bridge, leading to the Unitec Campus.
A gated chicane where the path meets the street.

Editorial interlude: this is the one bit that’s making us scratch our heads. Given Unitec is a slow-speed zone anyhow, it’s not quite clear what the thinking was [update: we hear one concern is the number of construction trucks on campus over the next year or so]. Not only will you immediately get muddy tire-track desire lines either side of the path, these can pose an impediment for cargo bikes, wheelchairs, and other mobility vehicles.

The good news: we’re told Unitec and Auckland Transport are discussing how to remedy the situation. Hopefully the wee gates are for the high jump.

You know what’s even better than simply removing barriers in a location like this? Cyclist-priority crossings, as seen in Christchurch.

Unitec chicanes vs one of Christchurch’s cyclist-priority crossings. Which would you rather? (Image by Jessica Rose, via Twitter)

Back to the path….

A bit of boardwalk through Unitec, between sections of smooth asphalt.
Another bit of Unitec boardwalk.
Where Unitec campus meets Laurel Street.
Leaving Unitec, and lighting out for the territory (Phyllis Reserve)
Phyllis Reserve, curving past the soccer club.
You’ll be able to bike to dog training!
Hard to see, but there are the makings of a bridge between Phyllis Reserve and Harbutt Reserve. (Who was Phyllis? And who was Harbutt?)
Harbutt Reserve; quite the sylvan glade. good solid footings for lighting, too.
A glimpse through the fence: the railside path on the north side of the tracks looking towards the Soljak Place Bridge. That’s Pak N Save behind the train, on New North Road. A little light quaxing suddenly becomes highly thinkable for those north of the tracks.
Looking back eastward from Trent St, Avondale to the Soljak Place Bridge over the railway line (Pak N Save is the glimmer of yellow on the right in this picture).
Tricky to get a good close image of the Soljak Bridge over the railway; but here’s one we prepared earlier (May 2017, taken from the southern end, photo taken through the fence).
And here’s the Soljak Bridge under construction, June 2017 (photo courtesy of the Well-Connected Alliance).
Once over the bridge across the railway, the path continues south along Soljak Place.
Exiting Soljak Place, here’s the intersection with New North Road and Bollard Ave…
…and once across New North Road, you’ll enter Alan Wood Reserve (a photo we took on the way home from the Waterview Tunnel Rides, June 2017). Onwards to glory and Mt Roskill!

While we’re here: you may be wondering about progress on other connections that tie into Wateview. Here’s the official word on the the New Lynn to Avondale path along the railway line, from the latest AT report to the Board:

New Lynn/ Avondale Cycle Route

Detailed design of the full route continues with all design work to be completed by October. Whau Bridge construction access is being investigated so that works can proceed to construction in this area in the coming summer. Construction of an underpass is proposed during rail service block of line in December 2017.

UPDATED: The spectacular Te Whitinga Bridge – as seen in the backdrop of many a photo from the Waterview Tunnel Walks and Rides – also opened this morning! Photos coming soon…

Te Whitinga Bridge at Hendon St – another crucial connection between neighbourhoods, opening any day now.
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  • Grant

    Looking good, thanks for the article…deciding weather to wait to try the fully completed track or just what’s done so far….

    • Grant

      “Weather” been the operative word

  • Matthew

    Sooo exciting, this will eventually keep me off the roads where I have been twice knocked over during my daily commute. My wife won’t let me ride on the road anymore, so great news!

  • samfnz

    Question about the wider shared path plans: I don’t suppose there is any plan for access to the Waterview Shared Path at the intersection of GNR and Blockhouse Bay Road (ie where Heron Park and Phyllis Reserve almost meet)? Seems like a natural place to have some kind of link through.

    It would be great to have connectivity from GNR to the Shared Path somewhere in that long gap between Trent Street and Alford Street, as it’s a long haul uphill east from Rata Street to get to the former, and a dangerous ride along the crappiest part of GNR to get to the latter.

    I’m having close shaves almost daily on my commute at the moment and about 70 percent of them are on GNR between Fir Street and Victor Street. If AT are going to put improvements on that section in the too-hard basket for the next 15 years (as announced after their Western cycle route consultation in 2016), they should at least make it easier for people on bikes to access the alternative routes being built.