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Council explains shared pathway plan



22 MF-Newpath2-400The recent ‘destruction’ of a ‘perfectly good path’ on one of Mangawhai’s main roads, and replacement with a brand new wider version, has elicited questions from some residents, curious as to why the money was not spent on other pedestrian walkways long deemed unsafe such as Molesworth Drive’s rocky ‘goat track’. 

For the last two months the new 750 metre ‘Moir Street Shared Path’, stretching from Mangawhai Domain to the Village, has been under steady construction and is one section of a network of ‘shared pathways’ Kaipara District Council (KDC) are developing. The new footpaths are created under guidance of the community-led and designed 2018 document, the Mangawhai Community Plan (MCP).  

Costing over $500,000 Moir Street’s new walkway, with a crossing point at the Domain, connects Tara Road to the corner of Insley Street, the standard 2.5 metre wide concrete path constructed to accommodate ‘all users’, KDC’s general manager for infrastructure, Jim Sephton says.  

“A shared pathway needs to be wide enough for pedestrians, cyclists, people who use mobility devices and users of wheeled recreation devices such as scooters, to share the space,” he says. “Widening the existing footpath was not an acceptable option because it would have left a seam along the middle of the pathway which would have been problematic for cyclists and users of other devices with narrow wheels.”

‘Shared pathways’ are part of a proposed ‘slow street’, one of MCP’s key moves described as an ‘environment that has the appropriate balance between all modes of transport, including pedestrians, cyclists and cars’, and will eventually connect different areas of Mangawhai from the school to the surf beach. The ‘slow street’ will run along Moir Street, Molesworth Drive and Mangawhai Heads Road from the roundabout to the coast with Molesworth Drive set to be the next stage to undergo construction once funding is secured Sephton says.

“We will be working with NZTA to obtain funding for additional stages of the shared pathway, as well as working with the developers of Mangawhai Central, who will include the shared path as part of their access works,” he says. “People who are walking, riding or scooting can do so safely in a modern environment and feel encouraged to spend time there, while still providing an efficient transport network for those choosing to use a vehicle. It is about creating a transport choice for our people.” 

KDC councillor Jonathan Larsen says the message he has received from the community is clear. 

“The section of path along Molesworth Drive from the Causeway to MAZ is the most dangerous and most important area of footpath to build… and the next priority is the link from the Village to the Causeway.”

Safe pedestrian passage along Molesworth has been debated before in council. In April 2018 Larsen tried to get the Causeway to MAZ footpath built as a matter of urgency due to safety concerns, however the motion was voted down by a five-vote majority, and although plans for the path were designed during the reign of the commissioners, construction was not implemented ‘for some reason’.

Larsen also says that the MCP was consulted on ‘at a high level only’ and is a ‘pretty broad-brush general document’, with plans not showing specific designs or locations of footpaths. 

“It is important that Council consults with the community on the design detail and implementation of projects and needs to prioritise works based on what the community most wants and needs. This will allow local knowledge to be properly included,” he says. “I have been assured by the new staff involved that communication and the way things are done are going to improve.”

Designed to accommodate all users, walking or wheeled, Moir Street’s new 2.5 metre wide concrete pathway has seen some residents questioning why other walkways hadn’t had priority for repair. 

 “People who are walking, riding or scooting can do so safely in a modern environment…”
- Jim Sephton, KDC

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