Orakei Road underpass rescued

A round of applause to the Orakei Local Board for intervening to make sure the new Orakei rail bridge is wide enough to make room for a pathway underneath busy Orakei Rd.

Not only is this link under Orakei Rd important right now, as it will provide a safe connection to the very popular and successful Orakei Basin boardwalk, but it’s also an essential element for the future creation of a walking and cycling route up the Purewa Valley.

Both KiwiRail and Auckland Transport were reluctant to find the money needed to fund construction of the path under the bridge. AT argued that the future Orakei Point residential development might make it redundant. But we agree with the Board that the underpass is needed now, not in many years time, and the opportunity shouldn’t be missed. So it’s great to hear the Board has come to the rescue by finding $100,000 of unspent money from the existing Orakei Walkway budget that could be allocated to the underpass and walkway extension. The underpass will be part of the work for a new KiwiRail bridge needed for electrification of the line, due to be completed by February 2012.

The Orakei Board deserves kudos for stepping forward on this issue as part of their exciting vision for extending a walking cycling route across Hobson Bay, and up through the Purewa Valley. Traffic Spokesman Ken Baguley says  “this is a victory for common sense and a small step towards getting the boardwalk extended across Hobson Bay.”

We think the creation of a green route across Hobson Bay and extending up the Orakei/Purewa Valley to St Heliers Bay Road  would be a wonderful asset for Auckland.

This active transport connection will appeal to commuters, recreational cyclists, and visitors to Auckland. The idea is to use the rail corridor across Hobson Bay and the Eastern Transport Corridor to extend an off-road walking and cycling route through to Glen Innes.  The Greenways Project website has some wonderful visuals of how the route could work as part of the Greenways concept pedestrian and cycle-friendly pathways all over Auckland. (http://greenwaysproject.org.nz/)

Cycle Action is right behind the push to get these ideas happening and it’s great to hear that Auckland Transport will be investigating options for this route. Carrying the Orakei Boardwalk underneath Orakei is a significant first step.

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