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Work on the Waipu to Waipu Cove Cycle and Walkway has finally begun.
It has been over five years since a group of Waipu Primary School children wrote submissions to the Whangarei District Council asking for a safe route to ride their bikes from Waipu township to the Cove and the Waipu to Waipu Cove Cycle and Walkway Trust was formed to see this project through.
It has taken five years of negotiations with landowners, making funding applications, community fundraising activities, submissions to the Whangarei District Council’s annual and long term plans, public consultations, meetings with Council staff, approaches to local businesses for support and planning and design work carried out by trustees with expertise in engineering and contracting.
The first big break-through came when Don and Melanie Mitchell, who own the farm along the northern side of Cove Rd. just east of Waipu, offered an easement over their land for the trail.
Then, in response to the primary school children’s submissions, the Council funded a scoping report. The report by Trevor Butler of Frame Group Consultants broke the project into four stages and costed the entire trail at $1,047,512.
Initially finding funding wasn’t easy, as a cycle/walkway project did not seem to fit the criteria for many funding bodies. However, in 2013 the trust was successful in securing a $25,000 grant from Transpower’s Community Care Fund. This was followed by a $50,000 grant from the Lotteries Foundation, another $50,000 from Foundation North and $9,200 from Waipu’s Alex McLean Trust.
Some persuasive submissions to the Council’s 2015/2016 annual plan by members of the public, the cycle/walkway trust and some of those original Waipu Primary School children (now at Bream Bay College) resulted in $105,000 being assigned to the project in the annual plan. Along with money raised through fundraising, the trust now had $290,000 in available funds and was confident to proceed with construction of Stage One.
A fortnight ago Paul Jenkins and his digger carved out almost two kilometers of the route in just a few days. By Friday of last week the trail from east of the Waionehu Bridge to the Flagstaff subdivision entrance gate was metaled and rolled so people can use this section over the holiday period.
Blue Chip Quarries in Mountfield Rd. supplied the brown rock and Angus Finlayson has provided a truck and driver; the rock, the truck and driver all come at discounted rates.
The brown rock may not be the final trail surface. The construction team will wait until the end of the busy summer period to see how well it compacts and stands up to foot and bike traffic.
The trail around the sharp corner just before reaching Riverview Place will be built in the New Year. This will involve laying drain coil and filling in the drain alongside the road. Railing will be installed to separate walkers and cyclists from the traffic. The approaches to a new cycle and footbridge over the Waionehu Stream will also be constructed early in 2016.
All going to plan, the bridge, on order from the specialist company Bridge It NZ, is expected to be delivered in April next year. The trust aims to have the bridge building consent submission lodged with the WDC before Christmas. There will be a two-month construction period from the time approvals are granted.
The western approach to the bridge was made possible by the Murray family of NSP (Northland Steel Products) who agreed to a boundary adjustment along the edge of their car park.
Meanwhile, the fundraising continues. Further funding applications have been made and a second Waipu Cycleway Festival at the Beach with live music for adults and fun activities for children will be held at Waipu Cove on Friday 15 January (see advert on page 17). The painted bikes, which will be appearing around Waipu sometime soon are advertisements for this event.
The trust will be carrying out public consultation in 2016 before it decides which section of the trail it will concentrate on next. Any funds remaining after the purchase of the bridge and construction of Stage One will go towards this next section.
The project is also supported by a dedicated fund-raising team.
Anyone who would like to get involved in this effort can contact Jan Francis – 0274 529 584 or 09 432 1442.