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"I’ve never had so little backlash about roadworks, ever," Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said at yesterday’s official opening of the section between Vauxhall and Macandrew Bay.
The broad plan includes linking the city’s harbour communities with a shared path out to Taiaroa Head.
Work was first carried out between Portobello and Broad Bay and, yesterday, completion of the 4.4km second stage was celebrated.
The section between Vauxhall and Macandrew Bay has been in use, but the formal opening was delayed until yesterday because of restrictions on gatherings due to Covid-19.
Work has also started on the section from Broad Bay to Company Bay.
Mr Hawkins said an early catalyst for the project was a push to have a footpath wide enough for two prams side by side.
Since then, cyclists and emergency services had provided impetus.
The path enabled people to use a greater range of transport choices, Mr Hawkins said.
"We’ve had a large increase in people using this facility.
"It was an especially popular asset during the lockdown."
Lucy Goldsmith, an administrator at Dunedin Hospital, had been using the pathway to get to work on her electric scooter.
The trip took her about 30 minutes.
"It’s great to be close to the water," Ms Goldsmith said.
Mr Hawkins said the work made road users much safer.
He acknowledged some sacrifices had been made for the good of the greater community.
Otakou kaumatua Edward Ellison said tangata whenua were nervous about further reclamation of the harbour.
"In this case, we relented," Mr Ellison said.
"We think it’s a fantastic asset and the harbour is the heart of the city."
The section features a new seawall, raised boardwalks, timber retaining walls, seats and steps down to the harbour.
The NZ Transport Agency has stated the Vauxhall to Macandrew Bay path provides the greatest safety benefits of any section of the Peninsula Connection project, including improved road safety for motorists.
This $26million project was funded by the agency and the Dunedin City Council and took almost two years to build.
Agency regional relationships director Jim Harland said many people were keen to try cycling but were worried about safety.
Cyclists were clearly confident about using the parts of the pathway completed so far, Mr Harland said.
The work would help the peninsula community economically and improve access to "a tremendous natural landscape".
Raising the road created a more resilient route, he said.