Harbour project making tracks despite Covid-19

Pathway extension . . . NZ Transport Agency senior project manager Jason Forbes stands at the start of the West Harbour cycleway-walkway extension at St Leonards, where work is back under way after the Covid-19 lockdown. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

Progress is good nearly six months into the $31 million project to extend the West Harbour shared pathway to Port Chalmers, despite the impact of Covid-19.

The project lost four weeks of work during the Alert Level 4 lockdown, when the weather was mostly fine, and only a skeleton crew worked during Level 3.

NZ Transport Agency senior project manager Jason Forbes is hoping for a settled winter to help make up some time on the project.

“Now that we are coming into winter, the combination of poor weather and shorter days could slow us down from time to time,” Mr Forbes said.

Covid-19 had also made it difficult to source materials, such as timber for building a 10m bridge at the St Leonards causeway, a boardwalk and retaining walls, and steel beams to secure a 200m-long wall through the Roseneath cutting, he said.

But contractor Downer had adapted well to the constraints of operating under Alert Levels 3 and 2. Mr Forbes was confident the project would be completed on schedule by the second half of 2022.

When completed, it will provide a safe, uninterrupted walking and cycling link between Dunedin and Port Chalmers.

Mr Forbes said another critical part of the project were safety upgrades on rural sections of SH88, where there had been 91 crashes in the past 10 years, 11 resulting in death or serious injury.

At present, work is concentrated in three main areas – a 220m strip of reclamation in St Leonards Bay; installing gabion baskets (rock-filled mesh cages) to support safety barriers; and an 800m reclamation at Sawyers Bay.

Work is also under way to build a 610m boardwalk in pre-fabricated sections, for later installation at Blanket Bay.

Mr Forbes said the reclamation at St Leonards and Sawyers Bay was necessary because there was not the width to fit the path between the highway and the rail.

“One of the important things for this project was for people using the path never to need to cross the rail lines,” Mr Forbes said.

“So we are keeping everything [the pathway] between the highway and the rail.

“Which means reclaiming this first bay, picking up the rail and putting it on the reclamation, and putting the path where the rail is big job moving the rail line.”

In total, the project will require moving about 2km of rail line along the length of the pathway, Mr Forbes said.

Tens of thousands of cubic metres of rock for the reclamation is being brought from the quarry at Logan Point, at the start of SH88.

The fill should have compacted in about six months, allowing work to begin on the top layers, and shifting the rail.

“It is a very technical process to move the rail, and we need to try to avoid stopping the trains as much as possible,” he said.

West Harbour shared pathway

  • More than 1.8km of reclamation causeway, 600m in Blanket Bay, and 800m in Sawyers Bay and Mussel Bay.
  • 30,000 to 50,000cum of fill.
  • More than 2km of the path in the rail corridor.
  • 1.5km of relocated rail and sub-surface preparation.
  • Almost 1.5km of timber retaining walls.
  • A 10m timber bridge in St Leonards causeway.
  • A 610m boardwalk around Blanket Bay.
  • A 200m wall through the Roseneath cutting using steel beams and concrete panels.
  • Six new “pedestrian refuges” and four right-turn bays.