Wellington Scoop

Ray Wallace outraged by NZTA’s funding delay for Eastbourne cycle/walkway

Press Release – Ray Wallace Mayor of Lower Hutt
Mayor Ray Wallace is outraged with the NZTA decision to put funding on hold for Eastbourne’s planned cycle/walkway

A long-planned cycle/walkway for Eastbourne is unlikely to be completed anytime soon, after the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) confirmed to council they are not in a position to partner with Hutt City Council to complete the entire walkway. NZTA says they may only fund part of the first stage of the Eastern Bays Shared Path due to funding restraints.

Mayor Ray Wallace says this delay is outrageous, especially since residents were expecting work to begin as early as next year.

The Council has been working with NZTA officers on final designs of the shared pathway which were recently submitted for consent. Government policy is that projects that meet their criteria can receive up to 58 % of the projects costs from Government.

Mayor Ray Wallace says the u-turn by government is incredibly frustrating, especially since residents were expecting work to begin as early as next year.

“I am deeply concerned that this crucial project which has been in the works for more than a decade is being stalled by NZTA because they claim they have no money. We have spent years working with NZTA co-designing the plans, to get us to the resource consent stage. That work has also included many hundreds of hours engaging with residents. This is incredibly frustrating and disappointing and I am seeking urgent confirmation from the government that they will commit to funding the entire pathway.

“This pathway is crucial for Eastbourne. We all know there’s a lack of dedicated cycling and walking facilities and the tightly constrained nature of Marine Drive has meant that there is currently low pedestrians and cyclist use. For the most part, cyclists and pedestrians must use the road shoulder, which is very narrow and even non-existent in sections.

“An efficient road network system is crucial to our region.

“We are still coming to terms with NZTA’s shock announcement to defer funding of the Melling Interchange to at least 2028, Petone to Grenada is off the table and now the Eastern Bays Shared Path is potentially put on the backburner. It is incredibly disappointing to see the government direct its NZTA funding to Auckland, despite more than 75 per cent of the population living outside of the region. I am not prepared to sit idle why our region continues to miss out on these crucial transport projects” says Mayor Ray Wallace.

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  1. Mary M, 11. September 2019, 14:00

    There is so much he could be outraged at – not this, as there is a walkway all around there. His outrage is unwarranted as not getting funding for another recreational cycle-lane one that no one uses to commute is the result of someone actually thinking using reasoning powers… quite rare nowadays.

  2. Glen Smith, 13. September 2019, 7:56

    It is sad that a senior local official such as Ray Wallace is unable to prioritise project funding in any sort of systemic way based on the evidence of project benefit. The greatest transport challenge facing the Hutt is the huge projected rise in congestion. Modelling shows the road projects he vociferously espouses won’t fix this. The highest priority is to improve the efficient rail based PT that serves the Hutt so well. The highest priority has to be extending our rail network across the Wellington CBD to provide a viable PT option for the across town Hutt car users who make up the majority of traffic approaching Wellington on SH2. Ray\s comprehension of our overall regional transport system doesn’t seem to allow him to recognise the value of getting this large cohort out of their cars. The second high priority has to be extending rail to service the Lower Hutt CBD by including rail in any Melling Bridge upgrade. Again this has either been ignored by Mr Wallace or he fails to comprehend the value of it.

  3. Andy Mellon, 13. September 2019, 11:21

    I’m not really sure how extending the Melling Line to the Hutt CBD is of any greater benefit than extending it to Belmont/Kelson.

    An extension to Belmont/Kelson would be vastly cheaper, using the old rail corridor and serve to remove traffic from SH2 in the busiest direction (i.e. towards Wellington in the morning, away from Wellington in the evening).

    Extending to the Hutt CBD would be vastly more expensive and involve some compulsory purchasing and whilst it would remove some vehicles from the road, they’d likely be vehicles running against the main traffic flow (away from Wellington in the morning etc.) With the Melling Line terminating in the Hutt CBD, I’m not really sure that it would be of great benefit to Hutt commuters either. Coming from Upper Hutt to Lower Hutt CBD would require you to change at Petone and then take the Melling Line. Quicker to walk from Waterloo!

    An extension to Kelson/Belmont seems much more pragmatic and useful than one to the Hutt CBD to me.

  4. Brendan, 13. September 2019, 13:44

    Petone – Granada link road and Melling Interchange are needed now please LGWM!

  5. Guy M, 14. September 2019, 19:57

    Brendon – and Ray Wallace – you guys need to get a sense of what is / is not appropriate in the world. The Grenada to Petone Link Road was sensibly stopped due to its completely unfeasible nature and MASSIVE construction cost. What was being proposed would have been the most energy intensive and expensive (per m) road in the entire country. It was just not possible to do it within a reasonable cost budget, especially when you think that there are already two routes available for use – SH1/2 and SH58. Longer, yes, but you’ll just have to suck it up and deal with it.

    Melling, on the other hand, is an interesting dilemma. What was being proposed wasn’t right either – it is not just the cars that need a better solution here, but the final train stop too. Surely it would be much better for Lower Hutt if the train also crossed the river and arrived near the High St? Time for a redesign?

  6. Brendan, 15. September 2019, 12:05

    @Guy M – do you ever drive from Porirua to Petone in the peak? If you did, you’d know what a congested nightmare it is. Link road is needed. If not then a widened SH2 between Ngauranga and Petone rather than a cycleway that very few will use (just like the current one they ignore for the hard shoulder).

  7. Dave B, 16. September 2019, 10:54

    @Brendan – do you ever cycle from Ngauranga to Petone? If you did, you’d know how inadequate the current cycleway is, and why many cyclists ignore it in favour of the hard shoulder.
    Southbound it isn’t too bad, though it doesn’t exist for the first 1Km south from the Petone on-ramp and cyclists have no choice but to use the hard shoulder.
    Northbound cyclists are actually directed by signage to use the northbound hard-shoulder and a no-entry sign warns them off using the cycleway. It can be used northbound, but this means riding the wrong way on the shoulder for the last 1Km to Petone – potentially having to pass southbound cyclists on this narrow strip beside traffic doing 100Km/h.
    The present cycleway is simply too narrow and restrictive to accommodate any more than a small number of cyclists.
    Build a proper cycleway and many more cyclists will use this main arterial route.

  8. Guy M, 16. September 2019, 14:03

    Brendan – yes I do drive that road at that time, all the time, but sensibly, I try to avoid the peak hours: it was no problem for me at 6.30 this morning.

    I agree that a link road would be useful, but get this: it is simply not affordable, ever. As I said, “What was being proposed would have been the most energy intensive and expensive (per m) road in the entire country.” So – no, not going to happen. Similarly, a widened SH2 would have a stratospheric cost, and besides: there is no room for more cars in Wellington. Traffic is clogged enough already. We want more people to take the train – leaving just the trucks on the road.

    If you have ever cycled the route between Wellington and Petone, you would quickly understand why cyclists are forced to use the hard shoulder instead of the skinny little path next to the train tracks. It is quite simple really: the path is not swept and is covered in debris like gravel and broken glass etc (kicked up by passing cars), while the hard shoulder is swept regularly, probably a couple of times a week. So: cyclists need a better route, better maintained, which will make everyone a lot safer: you, me, them, all of us. And while it will be expensive, it will still be a tiny portion of the price that new car lanes would be. Billions cheaper.

  9. Brendan, 16. September 2019, 19:15

    Dave and Guy – yes I do use the cycleway but I don’t dress in lycra and my cycle has thick tyres to avoid punctures. Maybe employing one guy with a brush might be useful. Cost $50k a year?

  10. Dave B, 17. September 2019, 11:12

    Brendan, puncture-causing debris is not the main problem with the existing Ngauranga-Petone cycleway. Neither is what cyclists wear. The main problems are i) It is too narrow for cyclists in opposite directions to pass each other safely, and ii) There is a 1Km gap between where it ends and the rest of the Hutt Valley cycleway network, where all cyclists are forced to use the highway. Odd that you don’t acknowledge these deficiencies if you say that you use it.

  11. Brendan, 17. September 2019, 21:07

    It’s not a bad cycleway Dave B – next time I’m off on my mountain bike to Petone and back I’ll look out for you. But I only use it in summer and when it’s not windy.