(Note some of the images here are mine, some are screenshots taken from from GoogleMaps, and WAMS)
There is a bit of a rumour that the WCC is looking at options for joining Ngauranga and Aotea Quay with bicycle infrastructure. It’s time to dust off my tin foil hat, fold back my skull, and chuck my ideas into the ring. This will be the first of 2 or 3 posts on the topic and this one covers north of the Interislander Terminal.
Currently the only bit of bike infrastructure is the Hutt Road shared path which is essentially a wide footpath with some painted bits, parked and turning cars and random powerpoles. I wrote about it a couple years ago in the Kaiwharawhara Shambles. Obviously I’m not too enthusiastic about it.
In my mind the best route north of the Interislander terminal is along the seafront, east of the railway line and east of the motorway:
South of there, there are a few obstacles to going along the seafront and any cycling route is going to have to go around the ferry terminal, the cement wharf, the railyards and further south, the log wharf and the cruise ship wharf:
So it is necessary to cross the motorway and the train lines, just north of the Interislander, in the vicinity of Kaiwharawhara Point, with the added advantage that with public access, the land around the point can be restored into a park:
Whilst it would be possible to skirt around the back of the InterIslander terminal and go under the elevated motorway just south of the Kaiwharawhara Stream, that leaves getting over the railway lines, so I think the best place to cross the motorway is near the sign gantry just south of Kaiwharawhara Station. In fact I’d replace this gantry with a bridge with the electronic speed signs put onto the side of the bridge:
There is also a bit of space between the motorway and the rail lines:
So here is a diagram showing the crux of my idea for a series of bridges. From a cyclists perspective riding south along the seafront path I’d come to the new Kaiwharawhara Point Park and I’d ride up the ramp to the bridge over the motorway, and then turning right if I wanted to I’d go to Kaiwharwhara Station and its bridges, which is handy for getting to the Kaiwharawhara Bridle Trail and up to Khandallah) or I’d turn left and I’d go along the elevated path (raised with fill) on the space between the motorway and the rail lines, and go over the bridge over the railway line to another elevated section alongside the Kaiwharawhara Stream (which could be built on a bit of surplus land bought or acquired from the tyre shop and its big carpark) and go down the ramp to the Hutt Road shared path and then south towards Wellington (and the subject of further posts). Or here is the interesting bit, instead of going down the ramp, go over the bridge over Hutt Road and through the tunnel that goes through the hill under Fort Buckley.
Yes, a tunnel through the hill, this hill. The photo shows where the bridge across the Hutt Road would go.
It would be a short tunnel, and then a bike path would be cut to follow the contour of the hill, above the shops and factories on School Road and Kaiwharawhara Road, and below the Johnsonville train line. And it would follow the contours up the gorge past the fuel tank, and then become the Ngaio Gorge Cycleway.
The advantage of the Ngaio Gorge Cycleway is that it would lead to the Waikowhai Street, Ottawa, Khandallah, Burma and Moorfield Roads to Johnsonville route (itself which needs safety improvements for cyclists). That is the way to Tawa, Porirua and the North. It also, with the lift at Crofton Downs cut out a lot of the uphill.
The advantage of the tunnel, and the route cut into the hill above the shops and factories at the bottom of the Ngaio Gorge is that it cuts out a busy congested section where cyclists have to share the bus lanes.
The advantage of the bridge scheme as a whole is that it makes the coastal route north of Kaiwharawhara feasible, and a safe, separated cycle route between Wellington and Petone and the Hutt makes for a great ride, a safer city and less congestion on the Hutt Road (if 1000 cyclists a day used it that’ll be a lot less cars stuck in traffic on the Hutt Road.)
Also note that the bridges over the Hutt Road, the railway lines and the motorway are all at the same elevation. This means if you were riding from the Ngaio Gorge and heading north along the coastal path it would all be at the same height until the ramp down from the bridge in the Kaiwharawhara Pt Park.
Cost wise it would be4 bike bridges, some ramps, some fill to elevate some sections, and a short tunnel (plus the other tunnel, and an elevator further up the Ngaio Gorge Cycleway). Plus the cost of the path along the seafront whether it be on reclaimed land, or some structure built over what space there already is. It would be moderately expensive, but then again investing in separated quality cycle infrastructure is the right thing to do.