Progress is being made on plans to connect Snells Beach with Warkworth via an eight kilometre walkway and cycleway, with work due to start on the first stage within the next few weeks.
Project chairman Gary Heaven said the initial section will see a new pathway between the bottom of Hamatana Road and the end of Grange Street, which runs south off Lawrie Road. This will effectively connect the Te Whau path and cycleway from the bottom of Dawson Road to Grange Street, via the Goodall Reserve.
“The first section will get underway very soon, sometime in March or April,” he said. “We’re trying to do it as soon as we can – get the basics done, then get significant structures and boardwalks in sooner rather than later.”
Rodney Local Board has agreed to allocate $9,370 towards the section as part of its Locally Driven Initiatives, Community-Led small building programme, and has identified the longer trail as part of its Rodney Greenways – Puhoi to Pakiri Paths and Trails Plan.
A sub-committee of the Snells Beach Residents and Ratepayers Association has been working on developing the path and cycleway for more than a decade, establishing the best route, commissioning feasibility studies and working closely with landowners and local government bodies.
The plan is to have a trail that heads west from Grange Street, via sections of Lawrie Road, Hamilton Road and Duck Creek Road, before dropping down to the Mahurangi River and running along the riverbank through bush and reserves right into Warkworth town centre. It is also hoped to have a couple of landing areas along the way, with a small chain ferry or barge to cross the river at the old cement works, so that walkers and cyclists can complete a loop around Warkworth.
The blue line shows the proposed route for the 8km footpath and cycleway.
Gary Heaven told the February Rodney Local Board meeting that the group was in discussions with consultants and contractors to get expert advice on any issues that might impede the project, and then planning consent applications could be submitted.
“We hope we can come up with a plan that allows it to be constructed in a way that keeps everyone happy,” he said. “The idea is to complete the project without significantly changing anything about the landscape and ambience of the river.”
He said funding the planning and consent stage was expected to cost $140,000 and the total project would be around $2.75 million, though he expected significant voluntary funding and labour.
Mr Heaven added that the group was working closely with Rodney Local Board, Auckland Council and the Matakana Coast Trails Trust in a bid to work out the best possible way to plan, fund and construct the new trail to ensure its success.