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Work is ramping up, as the $31million project to extend the West Harbour shared pathway to Port Chalmers, and improve safety on SH88, reaches a critical phase, reports Brenda Harwood.
The West Harbour shared pathway project has reached the halfway point, and is at its most logistically complicated stage, NZ Transport Agency senior project manager Jason Forbes says.
"We have now reached the point where we have to move the railway track near St Leonards, so that we can accommodate the shared path," he said.
To get the job done, while causing minimal disruption to trains on the main trunk line, work would have to continue 24 hours a day over five weekends until the end of August, he said.
The area where the rail is being realigned runs between the St Leonards Boat Club and Curles Point.
"To do this work safely, we need to reduce the highway to a single lane for up to a kilometre along this area of St Leonards Dr," Mr Forbes said.
This would cause short delays, day and night, while the work was under way.
Mr Forbes said reclamations at St Leonards and Sawyers Bay had also been necessary, because the the route was too narrow to accommodate the path between the highway and the rails.
"One of the important things for this project was for people using the path never to need to cross the rail lines."
Much of the work done by contractor Downer in the first half of the project had been to lay the foundation for what was to come, Mr Forbes said.
"We had to do the reclamation first, which was a first for us, and then wait for it to settle and pack down before building the pathway on top of it."
The concrete retaining wall at Sawyers Bay, with its decorative panels depicting Otago Harbour’s guardian taniwha Matamata, designed by local artist Simon Kaan, was almost complete.
"The design is created by 150 panels, which are placed alongside and on top of each other to repeat the pattern of the taniwha five times.
"Now that it is nearly finished, it is looking really good."
Work was about to start on installing a 610m-long boardwalk at Blanket Bay, which would connect to a 600m reclamation to form a "stunning feature" of the shared pathway, Mr Forbes said.
"The boardwalk will solve a lot of issues around the large causeway, and will also showcase the historic seawall at Blanket Bay.
"People will be able to walk and ride along beside it, at about 10 metres distance, and get a good look at it, which will be very special," he said.
The boardwalk, which was built by Downer carpenters in Port Chalmers, would incorporate 23km of timber and be a "very solid structure".
There would be a smooth riding surface on the boardwalk, made from glass-reinforced plastic, which had a light-blue colour.
"It will look quite spectacular," Mr Forbes said.
The piles to support the boardwalk were being driven in at the moment, the first five being done from the land. The remaining piles would be driven by an amphibious excavator, which would make an interesting sight from the road, he said.
So far, the State Highway 88 work had involved 30 to 80 workers each day, although numbers would be higher over the coming phase of weekend work.
"We need to get the job done as quickly as possible, so as not to disrupt the trains."
The SH88 shared pathway and safety project was on track to be finished by the end of next year, Mr Forbes said.