Northwestern Cycleway – The Causeway Works

CAA went out for a late evening ride to Te Atatu last Thursday to attend the first community stakeholder meeting for the SH16 works between Te Atatu and Pt Chevalier. That meeting mainly was on the big picture of the motorway widening.

We then followed that up on Friday with a CAA-specific briefing meeting with the motorway construction team (the “Causeway Alliance”) to discuss the changes to the Northwestern Cycleway, and ask lots of questions. We got quite a bit of information, almost all of it positive.

[Just to clarify – the discussion was solely about the motorway between Te Atatu and Waterview / Pt Chevalier – i.e. “The Causeway”. We have often blogged separately about our cycling work on the Waterview section, and in coming months will also update you on cycling matters for the Te Atatu Interchange works and the St Lukes Interchange works]


Design of the cycleway:

  • Something (slightly) negative first – to reduce the width of the future motorway in the marine reserve, the cycleway will be closer to the widened motorway than originally planned. Instead of 6-9m distance as during the consent process, the cycleway will generally be roughly 3m away from the first actual traffic lane (bus shoulders). On bridges, it will be approximately 1.5m away. While not as nice as the significant set-back of the Board of Inquriy design, it will still be better than existing – where in some sections, the distance to live traffic feels like maybe half a meter, on the clip-on bridges…
  • The bridges for the cycleway will also not be separate anymore (that’s a real shame, though mostly cosmetic in practical terms). Instead cyclists will cross on the same bridges as the cars – the narrow clip-ons will still go: Even on bridges, there will be a minimum 3m clear width for the cycleway between the railings – as well as the aforementioned 1.5m distance to traffic, and of course, crash barriers…
  • As a default, the cycleway will have a 3m wide asphalt surface, with 0.5m berms either side, then railing / motorway security fences. Recent design changes do however mean that for some sections on the causeway (mostly between Rosebank Peninsula and Pt Chevalier), the cycleway will be on a (concrete surface) “boardwalk”, to reduce impact on Oakley Creek / the estuary underneath. Since these sections are longer (several hundreds of meters), it was decided that they will be 4m wide between the railings (unlike the bridges, where the true width is 3m – but for shorter distances each time).
  • Talking of boardwalks – the little wooden boardwalk section (with the patchy surface) east of Rosebank Road twisting through the mangroves… it will be straightened out a bit as well as raised and widened. CAA is exploring with the construction alliance about changing the design to a concrete surface boardwalk (currently, the intention is still for it to still remain a wooden structure – but with asphalt surface), but that is not confirmed yet.
  • At Rosebank Peninsula, between Patiki Road and Rosebank Road, the consented design had some sections where the cycleway narrowed slightly, down to 2.5m width, due to existing warehouse buildings. It is possible that this narrowing may now be able to be avoided, but that is not confirmed yet.
  • Between Patiki Road and the Rosebank Domain (the racetrack), the cycleway will become separate from the access road to the Domain. It will also not have to climb up the hill anymore, but will get cut down into the side of the hill as it heads towards the Whau.
  • There will also be two accesses onto Patiki Road from the cycleway, one leading to / coming from each side of the road (though there will still be only one at Rosebank Road).
  • But possibly the greatest change is that the cycle bridge at Patiki Road – over the on / offramps – is going. It will be replaced by an underpass, which will mean that the vertical change is absolutely minimal (ducking down 1-2m, instead of going up around 6m). If underpasses don’t sound great: we have seen the designs, and are quite happy – the underpass will be something like 8-10m wide and short (it will actually be shorter than wide, and feel more like a bridge over the cycleway than a tunnel). It will have 2.5m head room.

Other items of importance:

  • There will be crash barriers between the cycleway and the motorway everywhere along the route (currently, there are some sections with just a grass strip and a wire mesh fence).
  • The cycleway will get it’s own dedicated lighting. No more patchy sections where the motorway-focused lighting is blocked by vegetation in the way.
  • There will be better route signage – useful especially for first-timers, recreational users, tourists…

Construction effects on cyclists:

  • Construction will start early 2013. Work in the cycleway area will actually be pretty much one of the first things to happen, with the area south of the current cycleway being raised by up to several meters, depending on location (so it doesn’t flood anymore), and the cycleway then to be moved on top of that new embankment. For the rest of the construction period, you will have a nice view down at the works below and to the north – while you are safely out of the construction zone.
  • In many sections, the shift will be straight onto the permanent new cycleway, so no disruptions to the quality of the ride. Where temporary paths stay around for longer, we have received a promise that those sections will also be asphalted.
  • There are to be no closures. There may be half a dozen crossing locations where trucks go across the cycleway with loads – on these locations, the construction alliance intends to use “stop / go” traffic, but the default should be “go”, as the disruptions will be pretty minimal from what they tell us – you might have to wait a few seconds on the occasional ride to let a truck trundle past, but hopefully that should be it.

We will keep you in the loop here on the blog over the coming years as things proceed – but we also noted to the construction alliance that the easiest way to communicate with most cyclists on the Northwestern would simply be information boards stuck up at either end of the construction zone, since most users are regulars.

So here’s to a construction that doesn’t disrupt your ride, and leaves us with a much better cycleway. If anything seems to be wrong during construction, don’t hesitate to contact the alliance / NZTA or us.

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