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A Seaward cycleway and a Saved Valley

There have been a couple of pieces of news out of Wellington in the last few days.

The first is that the NZTA have decided to build the pedestrian and cycle path between Petone and Ngauranga on the seaward side of the rail tracks – the other option was between the tracks and the road.

Wellington Petone to Ngauranga cycleway 1

The path will be 3m wide with a 1m shoulder on each side which is to allow space should there need to be maintenance on the rail network. It certainly looks better and will be a more pleasant experience than being squeezed between the road and the tracks. It will obviously require a lot of reclamation to occur along the waterfront and will be interesting to see how that goes with consenting. The NZTA say that as they haven’t finalised the plans yet it may be possible to design it so it could also provide an opportunity to straighten the rail tracks in the future.

Being flat it would be a nice easy ride and on a nice day it would be a fantastic way to arrive into the city from the north – although probably not much fun if a strong southerly was blowing.

Connections on either side of the route are currently being funded as part of the Government’s Urban cycleway fund to the tune of $19 million however this middle section falls outside of that funding. The total project is expected to cost about $54 so that would put this part with reclamation at $35 million an isn’t expected to start till 2019 financial year.

An interesting aspect to the project is that it isn’t just about creating a cycleway but also about improving the reliance of the road and rail networks beside it. This should help prevent a repeat of what happened in 2013 when a large chunk of the rail formation was washed away disrupting travel for a week.

Overall this looks like a good decision from the NZTA and it sounds very similar to what’s needed for Seapath in Auckland

 

The second piece of news was the NZTA announcing they’ve settled on a route for the Petone to Grenada Link Road and it’s one that avoids Takapu Valley which we’ve covered off before. Stuff reports

About 50 properties have been spared a date with the bulldozer after it was announced the Petone-Grenada highway, north of Wellington, will not include a link road through Takapu Valley or a wider motorway at Tawa.

The New Zealand Transport Agency has revealed the route the proposed $270 million highway will follow between Wellington’s northern suburbs and Hutt Valley, saving motorists as much as 30 minutes on return trips.

The highway will carve through the Horokiwi Crest between Petone and Tawa, providing a four-lane link with extra crawler lanes on the Petone side.

A total of 126 land parcels will be affected, many owned by public organisations and many related to development proposals.

Four new interchanges will be constructed, providing better access on and off State Highway 1 and 2 at either end as well as access to the highway for those living in Grenada Village.

The proposed route is below.

Petone to Grenada Route

One of the more interesting decisions is that the NZTA have now said they will only upgrade the motorway through Tawa if they need to in the future after the current projects are finished. This is an approach I wish they’d take with more projects.

Ms Bleakley says the Transport Agency has decided to focus on managing future traffic growth within the existing corridor, with the option of putting in place a ‘managed motorway’ (similar to the smart motorway currently being built south of Ngauranga), or a similar approach, should traffic growth require it. Only minor designation changes will be required and property impacts will be minimal.

This means that the other two options – a road through Takapu Valley, or taking property to widen the motorway north of Tawa to six lanes – will not be required as part of the proposed project.

“Over the last year and a half, we have been undertaking rigorous investigations, while working with the public and councils to make sure we understood what was important to the region. This work has helped us to identify how we can best harness the remarkable benefits of this project while minimising its effects.

“Having examined the evidence, we are confident that we can manage future traffic growth within the existing corridor north of Tawa through a ‘managed motorway’ approach if required in the future, and by utilising the shoulders of the existing road.”

I’m guessing that with the level of growth that Wellington is experiencing that even the NZTA were struggling to justify spending more.

However when speaking about justification there were a number of comments in the NZTA press release that set my BS detector off. I don’t know enough about the project to say categorically that what the NZTA claim is false but many of the comments are similar to ones they’ve made about other dubious projects. For example, the NZTA claim this route will allow Wellington to reap economic benefits. This isn’t to say there aren’t any but my guess they’re probably not as big as claimed for a couple of reasons.

The NZTA say the new motorway will cost $250 to $270 million which seems extremely unlikely given the size of the road and terrain it travels through. As a comparison the Hobsonville motorway opened in 2011 covering about the same distance and which cost $220 million. This project seems to require massive civil works to move hillsides. To see the impact watch the video on the Stuff article to see impact. Higher costs will obviously reduce the BCR of the route.

Petone to Grenada Route Hill Cut

They claim time savings of up to 30 minutes per day. This is likely to be mostly people travelling to east-west destinations but I wonder how many actually need to do that. Even getting the demand and time savings results a little wrong could have big impacts on the projected usage and therefore the benefits that accrue from the project.

25 comments to A Seaward cycleway and a Saved Valley

  • Guy

    This decision is a big relief for the people who live in the Takapu Valley, who have been fighting it hard for the last few years, and so I guess thank you are in order for NZTA for actually taking notice.

    The Horokiwi end of the road though, is absolute madness: currently one of the steepest, windiest, and gnarly bits of road in the wellington region. They’ve certainly got a battle ahead there, to get a reasonable road through, but 4 lanes!? Good luck to them on that one.

  • Andrew

    I was living in Korokoro (the suburb to the bottom right of the map above) when the Petone-Grenada road was being talked about a year ago. In the information material they sent out, NZTA were talking about using the earth they dig out of the hills for the reclamation for the SH2 cycle path. I haven’t seen any mention of that in the latest press, but wonder if that’s why the cycleway isn’t being started for a few years. Would that have much affect on the price estimates?

    • john.keenan

      I’m not sure if it is journalistic licence but the last point under the heading “Highway Benefits” reads:

      * About 9 million cubic metres of fill from construction can be used to build the Ngauranga to Petone cycleway

  • Guy

    Scoop note that the discussion from the NZTA says:
    “Will you be using fill (dirt from earthworks) to reclaim the harbourside?”
    “Where possible the Transport Agency will look to align construction of the Cycleway, Walkway, and Resilience project with the Link Road. This could include making use of fill to help reduce the costs of this project’s preferred option between Petone and Ngauranga. However, while this would be an added benefit from dovetailing the projects, the cycleway is not dependent on the Petone to Grenada Link Road in order to progress.”
    http://wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=83913

  • Rob S

    Huge relief that Takapu Valley has been saved. The big question is why was it ever put forward by NZTA? Backroom analysis should have ruled it out and saved a lot of harm to people and communities. It would have turned an east west link road into a north south commuter road, with huge detriment to PT. Luckily the GWRC picked this up and fought hard.

    I strongly suspect Takapu was a smokescreen to get the P2G project over the line, because in reality it’s going to be very expensive, a resilience risk in earthquakes, and a project of mind boggling scale (more rock will come out of the climb from Petone than the whole Transmission Gully route – hence the need to stash it close by in the form of a sea path). SH58 Hayward’s is a much more important link to focus on before Transmisson Gully comes online we believe.

    So sensible decision, but Wellington NZTA need more scrutiny. Their actions have been brutal, their option analysis mathematically error ridden, and their ability to engage with community woeful. Their culture needs a makeover.

    • Guy

      Rob, congratulations on winning the battle against NZTA on this one – I know you’ve been fighting hard. Well done. Interestingly, its arguable that it is not really NZTA whose “actions have been brutal, their option analysis mathematically error ridden, and their ability to engage with community woeful. Their culture needs a makeover.” The reports have all been done by Opus, headed by Wayne Stewart, who was the walking disaster area in charge of the failed Basin Bridge fiasco. He’s either a glutton for punishment, or just likes to put up straw men for others to take aim at. I hope he enjoys his retirement now.

      • Rob S

        Thanks Guy. Yes, I and a core group of others have fought really hard, thanks.

        Fortunately NZTA (or Opus) don’t actually seem that organised or connected, and for professionals, as a tax payer, I’m flabbergasted at the quality of their work. After following and digesting the Basin decision we became increasingly confident that we would easily succeed with legal action and this would mire the whole P2G in one mighty scrap. Infact, our case would have been much stronger than the Flyover, but I want to acknowledge the hard work by Save the Basin as incredibly important for creating ‘gun shyness’ amongst decision makers.

        It does really concern me that Wellington NZTA have an inappropriate culture for an organisation with such power over peoples’ lives. Their regard of the OIA is also problematic (such as ringing up to say nothing exists when it did, then a month later granting themselves an extension past a critical deadline because they had was too much – now with the Ombudsman).

    • Greg

      Given how harshly criticised NZTA were for not fully considering all options in the Basin Reserve schmoozle, they really have no choice but to look at all options in detail now. Kinda ironic….

      • Darius

        Not ironic at all – better planning enforced through some hard taught lessons from advocates. Everyone will be better off for it.

        Until / unless of course the govt changes the laws so NZTA doesn’t have to anymore. Sadly, that is always a possibility – they were already surprised that their own creation, the EPA, could create so much hassle and extra mitigation cost for their pet project even with the very limited ability the law gives them to change/question the projects (for example not being able to ask about economic justifications).

  • luke

    My guess is the road is being built as motorway when 2 lanes would probably suffice to be easier for trucks to travel from Seaview/gracefield north to SH1.

  • Fred

    Well said Rob. I could not agree more. It must be time for a complete overhaul at NZTA. There methods are 3rd world at best.

  • Lindsay

    Reality will be trucks will use SH2 and Haywoods when heading north/south, so 2 lanes up hill and 1 down on P2G will be adequate for small vehicle traffic. Glad sense has prevailed regarding Takapu and SH1, however another roundabout at Tawa is madness (that would make 4 all next to each other), P2G north end needs to be highspeed on and off ramps south of Tawa!

    • luke

      it does seem overkill, a two lane road and improvements to Haywards plus a rail sidings at gracefield for an inland centreport would be more appropriate imo.

      • For what it’s worth, there are rail sidings at Gracefield for the railway workshops, and they used to have sidings serving all the big industrial sites in Seaview directly.

        Those were ripped out in the early 2000s, when most of the heavy industry (like the Ford factory) had closed.

  • Andy C

    Thanks for this update Matt – the cycleway will be a great addition however the Petone to Granada road still seems quite ambitious. Reading between the lines of the Regional Council’s long term plan for transport, it seems that this road is really another way of moving large numbers of trucks from Seaview to State Highway 1 – but you have to wonder how effective it will be given the gradient of the road from Horokiwi and the fact that State Highway 58 is still available ad is also going to be upgraded as it gets connected to Transmission Gully. And at the same time, the Council and NZTA’s medium term plans are still to have a Cross Valley Link from Seaview to State Highway 2. So while it will help a small number of commuters get from the Hutt to Porirua (and vice versa) I can’t see it hitting the expected 22,000 vehicles a day very quickly… but time will tell.

  • The cycleway is indeed a good thing. However it looks to me much more like climate change mitigation, ie protection for the rail and road routes than anything. But they’re not allowed to say that. Also this work can then come from the cycleway budget; clever! Still, not knocking them delivering these too aims together. Onward.

  • MIke

    I’m glad that Takapu Valley has been saved. That’s one environmental disaster averted. Still got the other one on the table though that is the Petone to Grenada link. Disaster because it’ll be literally a huge scar on the landscape, destruction of a village, and if you do the maths on it the amount of rock that needs to be shifted is astronomical.

    NZTA estimate that 9 million cubic metres of rock will be removed. That’s a solid block 1metre high (chest height), 4.5 metres wide (two car widths), that would stretch all the way from Bluff to Cape Reinga!.

    Put it another way.It’s 21,000,000 tonnes. That’s a 30 tonne truck and trailer loaded every 2 minutes, 10 hours a day, 6 days a week – for 8 years!

    Lunacy.

  • john.keenan

    Great news that the stream lined version of this link has been endorsed, at least in terms of length – Petone 2 Grenada (North) NOT Tawa / Takapu!

    Feel compelled to push my case again for East – West PT using P2G.

    I think a Busline could be run Johnsonville train station to Waterloo train station via Glenside / P2G, Petone train station, Petone foreshore and the Hutt CBD.

    If a train station was built on the Kapiti line – Glenside station – at the mouth of the Tawa tunnels, this Busline would connect the Johnsonville Line and its Western suburb catchment to the Kapiti line at Glenside (for Porirua / Kapiti), the Hutt and Melling lines at Petone (for Lower Hutt) and the Hutt line at Waterloo (for Upper Hutt) along with better access to the Petone foreshore and the Hutt CBD.

    If there are to be “slow lanes” / 3 lanes between Petone and Grenada why not make the 3rd lane a dedicated Truck / Bus / HOV lane?

    For the cost of one relatively modest train station with a bus interchange this project (Johnsonville – Waterloo Busline) could be incredibly good for PT connectivity in the region and perhaps even justify some of the P2G’s expense.

    Visual (the blue line on the map):
    https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zOMls5OLDdgc.kHwUYEeA-ETQ&usp=sharing

    • john.keenan

      If the cycleway is going to go ahead independent of P2G and there will be straightening / reclamation – Ngauranga to Petone of SH2 and the Hutt line I wonder if there is an opportunity for a high quality transit orientated development at the current BP service station?

      There is a natural point just to the NE of the service station, if road and rail were straightened and aligned it would leave a sizeable pocket of flat land that could be developed into a high rise apartment cluster.

      Pedestrian access over (or under) SH2 to the cycleway and a new train station on the Hutt line would see it have fantastic PT access to both Wellington and the Hutt Valley. There could also be bus stop shoulders either side of SH2 that could link the development with the Eastbourne and Valley Flyer services, even a potential wharf could be considered to link into the Petone ferry service.

      As the hills rise steeply and the site is slightly recessed, the apartments would have in theory almost no height restrictions, you could easily get 4-8 buildings of 50-100m into the site. Say 6, 75m buildings with 25 floors and 3-5 apartments per level, 8 people per floor – 1200 residents.

      Cars could access the TOD as they do now the service station, northbound entry / exit only.
      Parking could be built into the hills above the development and accessed from Newlands at Tamworth Cres or Cromwell Pt, or into the basement of the buildings and if required a car bridge over SH2 could give southbound entry / exit access.

      Visual
      https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zOMls5OLDdgc.kbyyq53u30XQ&usp=sharing

  • Rob S

    Matt, the estimate of costs seems like pure fiction. But then it’s all been fiddled to suit from the start. For instance, NZTA was costing the addition of 2 lanes onto an existing motorway (about 2km of wide flat stable land) past Tawa, at a similar cost as putting a 6km road through steep gully cut fault formed rural Takapu valley, all in an effort to make Takapu look like a good option. I have no doubt that the overall estimate, given the truly massive (up to a 70m deep 6 lane cut from sea level to 275masl) earthworks, is miles out

  • MIke

    Despite what the Dom Post say, who’ve swallowed the NZTA hand out, hook, line and sinker (probably because they’ve not got any jouno’s left) – Petone to Grenada is a white elephant.,

    The quickest way to get from Porirua to the Hutt Valley, once Transmission Gulley is in, is to join it at Kenepuru Drive and exit and exit to Haywards.

    It’s flatter and less steep than Petone to Grenada.

    In fact all the traffic between the North and the Hutt Valley will come off to head for Haywards.
    The main trunk road has moved east. Less traffic through Tawa, and less round the corner at Ngauranga.

    No need for Petone to Grenada ad the destruction of a village and the the removal of 2367,,000 tonnes of rock for 6km! with less traffic.

  • Lloyd

    While a cycleway on the seaward side of the tracks will be pleasant on a calm day it will be a wind and wave swept area in those days with a southerly blowing across the harbour. Since the cycleway has always been low on NZTA priorities we can assume that repairing wave damage and sweeping rubble off the cycleway will also be a low priority and that for several weeks after each storm those cyclists who don’t go out with a low loader to precede them will have to carry their bicycles across the boulders or continue to battle the traffic on the road. Since storms occur regularly we can assume that the cycleway will be impassible most of the time, unless there is a significant budget added to the project for ongoing sweeping and rip-rap replacement, with a dedicated team to undertake this maintenance.

  • Cynical Joe

    It’s a good news story to loose some of the 9 million cubic metres of rock they are going to produce to destoy Horokiwi. That and the runway extension.

  • Bob

    Where’s the 30 minutes come from? Last time I looked it didn’t take 30 minutes to do 6 km!. Theroad is due to have a 70 KM limit, it’ll have a maize of roundabouts at Grenada, and I don’t see the traffic is going to be speeded up along Petone seafront – the existing roundabout doesn’t cause a bottle neck.

    If theyreally wanted to improve things they’d widen the road between Petone and Ngauranga (no plans to do thiis) one that at 70,000 vpd is nearly taking twice that of Tawa (40,000 vpd) -,that was under threat of being bulldozed or Takapu Valley sacrificed.

    Go figure on the incompetence at the NZTA

  • Allister.

    It is great that the extra roads at the Takapau/Tawa end of the P2G have been scrapped, but the whole P2G still seems to me a solution looking for a problem. They are currently upgrading the Haywards Road and are about to build a grade separation between it and SH2, so there just needs work at the Melling and Kelson intersections to grade separate them (trickier than Haywards due to less space) and the route from Petone over Haywards to Porirua would be much better. However, it seems to me that the Transmission Gully road is missing a connection at the south end making it hard to access the commercial part of Porirua/Kenepuru from the north without traversing a lot of residential area (either by exiting TG early and travelling through Porirua East or continuing to the Tawa interchange and doubling back either through Tawa or along the present SH1. There is the same problem leaving Kenepuru and heading north you can get directly onto TG. I am suspicious that this has purposely done to make P2G more attractive. Another thing that might help connections is to make it possible to move from SH2 southbound to SH1 northbound at Ngauranga without having to go through traffic lights. It seems to me there is enough land between SH2 and the railway to build an overpass to connect the two roads – they have already built a whole lot of (temporary?) roads east of the interchange to provide access to build the extra lane and information signs for the “smart” motorway.

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