Work to develop new walking and biking paths on the seaward side of Cobham Drive will start ramping up from this week, with the installation of protective fences along the shoreline to help prevent erosion during construction.
The first of the new paths were developed between Miramar wharf and the Calabar Road roundabout in late 2017. Since then new streetlight poles with LED lights and banners have been installed on the central median, cables moved underground, and the old poles on both sides of the road removed.
From Monday, our contractor Downer will set up their main site office on the grassed area near the Zephyrometer wind sculpture (near the intersection of Cobham Drive and Evans Bay Parade).
They plan to have two crews working before long – the first between the Calabar Road and Troy Street roundabouts, and the other between the Evans Bay Marina and Troy Street. A second site office will be set up at the car park near the Troy Street roundabout, and this car park will be closed to the public while the construction work happens.
The reconstruction work is expected to take about a year.
The project will involve a lot of landscaping. Rocks on the site will be stockpiled and reused, with some additional smaller rocks brought in. Following construction of the paths, wider areas will be re-contoured and graveled areas created. Earth mounds and rocks will provide structure and some shelter for the first of the native plants which will go in during early winter 2020, with the rest to be planted over the next six years.
All of the species have been chosen with the harsh coastal environment in mind, but the hardiest will be going in first. Once established, these will provide some shelter for the species that might need a little more protection from the wind and salt spray.
About 380 mokomoko, indigenous northern grass skinks, were moved from the construction zone in January to areas with similar vegetation. Two areas where kororā, little blue penguins, have been recently resting or nesting, are being fenced off to allow the penguins to safely come and go.
The work will be managed in a way that will allow people on foot and bikes to continue to use this route; however some disruption and temporary detours will be in place at times. The construction team plans to build the exposed aggregate concrete walking path first, and then the two-way asphalt bike path, which is beside the road. The walking path will become a temporary shared path while the bike path is being built.
In the coming weeks, between Calabar Road and Troy Street, the traffic lanes on the seaward side of Cobham Drive will be narrowed with barriers placed in the shoulder area and the speed limit along this stretch reduced from 70km/h to 50km/h. People who usually cycle on the road need to be aware that the shoulder area will be closed once this happens, and they will have to share the lane with traffic.
The 50km/h speed limit will be extended along the length of the seaward side of Cobham Drive once the second work crew gets under way. The speed limit on the city-bound lanes on the southern side of the road will remain at 70km/h.
The Council’s Portfolio Leader for Walking and Cycling, Councillor Sarah Free, says the project is an important part of the Council’s plan to develop a citywide cycle network.
“It’s taken longer than expected to get to this point, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the new walking and biking paths take shape this year.
“With construction also under way on the two-way bike path along Evans Bay Parade, the Cobham Drive paths will be a key connection into the city from the east around Akau Tangi/Evans Bay and will encourage more people of all ages to ride bikes.”
Once complete, it will be possible to ride between Miramar cutting and the city without having to ride on the road. This 7km commuter and recreational coastal route has been named as Tahitai by Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika, meaning one tide, one journey, and will also form part of a future Te Aranui o Pōneke/ Great Harbour Way.
The exposed section of coast along Cobham Drive is also home to the Meridian Energy Wind Sculpture Walk and there will be seats and bike parking at the sculptures where people can stop and enjoy the views.