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Shared Path welcomed, phase two faces delays


JULIA WADE

 

27 June. 2020

 

12 MF-Sharedpath2-401Phase one of Mangawhai’s Shared Path venture is coming close to completion with many already enjoying the spacious wide paths and free-flow of the large roundabouts. However the next step in the ambitious project has already been met with delays, due to material supply issues and endangered nesting birds.

Discussed at Kaipara District Council’s (KDC) Externally Funded Projects Committee meeting on June 22, phase two of the Shared Path, consisting of the boardwalk and bridge, has been confirmed to be rescheduled for January 2023.

Northland Transportation Alliance (NTA) capital works and procurement manager, Greg Monteith, reported that due to ‘encountering supply chain material delays’ the delivery of boardwalk piles has been deferred by four months, resulting in the completion of the piling work for the eastern side of Tara Creek Channel spilling over into the fairy tern breeding season which begins in September. The work needed to be completed by the end of August to meet the vulnerable bird’s breeding restrictions, a resource consent requirement of the project.

“We’ve been in negotiations with Northland Regional Council and Department of Conservation (DoC) but didn’t get the approval to extend the construction window past August,” he says. “There were too many concerns with the birds in that area and the risk the work could potentially impose, with the limited number of birds that are left we need to protect them as best we can, no one was ready to take that risk. The likely scenario now is the project will definitely be starting in January next year.”

Mangawhai-Kaiwaka councillor Peter Wethey says the delay of phase two construction due to ‘the blowout of raw materials is unfortunate but inevitable’ with DoC and Fairy Tern Trust’s protective stance on the birds breeding season.

“I understand from discussions with construction project manager Tim Manning, we possibly would have had difficulty getting the appropriate materials in time to do the piling work anyway, so the delayed time will fit in well with obtaining what is required.”

Escalations in building industry prices have also impacted the project, with ‘tender prices coming in significantly higher than forecast’ leading to $400,000 of extra funding being sought, although ‘cost value engineering has occurred to reduce prices to within approximately $400K of the budget’. Monteith says a portion has already been approved by NTA with the balance to be paid by KDC from financial reserves which are for recreation and access to coastal areas. More detailed discussions for the extra funding will take place at a later council meeting.

“We are progressing,” Monteith says. “Planting is now finished on the track, we’re proceeding with the path past the art gallery to Leslie Street, having final negotiations for the community path section and working on bringing down the costs, and then

seeking approval of getting the funding awarded to our contractors, United Civil, in the next couple of weeks.”

Besides questions on the extra-funding and timeframe of different phases of the project, councillors expressed their concern and the need to confirm funding to see the infamous ‘goat track’, the rocky path between Pearson Street and Mangawhai Central, become transformed into a safe passage.

At the end of the presentation, the mayor and councillor’s statements were generally positive about the progress of the Shared Path, with praise for the work conducted by United Civil despite disruptions, NTA, council staff and elected members who were involved at the inauguration of the project.

Councillor Victoria del la Varis-Woodcock says when she was last in Mangawhai, it was ‘such a great experience’ to see people ‘out-and- about’ using the completed sections of the Shared Path.

“The first-serving councillors will remember the journey that we’ve been on, starting with the Mangawhai Community Plan and the amazing collaboration and engagement with people,” she says. “The vision of slow streets with everybody out walking, cycling, scootering… and planting to give the feeling of a coastal village… that is what the community wanted. I feel proud and happy to see it coming to fruition.”

n To view the full council meeting, visit the KDC YouTube channel.

 

Kaipara mayor, Dr Jason Smith says he and his dog, tucked into a backpack, enjoyed a ‘very smooth ride’ on his ebike along the Shared Path recently: “The path is already providing a great service to the community and will for many, many years… it’s a project which has been well-planned and well-executed, great progress so far.” PHOTO/JULIA WADE


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