Stars aligning for port pathway completion

Steve Walker
Steve Walker
The long-awaited completion of the shared pathway to Port Chalmers is another step closer, after the Dunedin City Council and NZ Transport Agency agreed on a key step in the process.

The two parties have agreed on the details of a memorandum of understanding, which will spell out the council's role in maintaining the final 5km section of path - between St Leonards and Port Chalmers - once it is finished.

The parties still need to put pen to paper to complete the deal, but council transport group manager Richard Saunders said when contacted yesterday that was now just a formality.

''We are obviously happy to take on the responsibility for that maintenance, because we think it will be a fantastic asset,'' Mr Saunders said.

Work to complete the project had been beset by delays since the completion of the section from near Forsyth Barr Stadium to St Leonards.

A massive cost blowout two years ago had put the rest of the project on hold, before funding of between $20million and $25million was confirmed last May.

The money would come from the NZTA through the national land transport programme, and would include the cost of safety improvements on State Highway 88 itself.

NZTA spokeswoman Frances Adank said yesterday two ''key'' agreements with KiwiRail still needed to be finalised before work could proceed, but she hoped those would be signed within days.

Those agreements would provide access for contractors building the final section of pathway, while also ensuring rail operations were not disrupted by pathway construction.

Once the agreements with KiwiRail were finalised, NZTA would call for tenders from interested construction companies wanting to do the work, she said.

A revised timeline for construction and completion was not available yesterday, but the last one - issued in May 2018 - envisaged work starting later in 2018 and being completed by 2022.

Ms Adank said yesterday it was still expected to take ''a few years'' to complete the route, once work started.

West Harbour Community Board chairman Steve Walker said after such a long wait, the fresh signs of progress were ''fantastic''.

However, he remained only ''cautiously excited'' for now.

''I have been excited before and seriously let down, but I'm sensing this time ... we finally might have that final piece of the jigsaw.

''It's exciting, but many years too late. But better late than never,'' he said.

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