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Two options to fix Wellington’s controversial Island Bay cycleway revealed

Two options have been revealed to fix Island Bay’s botched cycleway, five years after it was first completed.

The proposals come just days after Let’s Get Wellington Moving revealed four options to overhaul the city’s transport network, including light rail running from the central railway station to Island Bay.

Any mass rapid transit route to the south would go down The Parade and trigger an overhaul of the road layout all over again, throwing somewhat of a spanner in the works.

The 1.7km Island Bay cycleway, which was completed in 2016, has been the subject of court action, safety concerns and budget blowouts.

The cycleway is currently set between the footpath and parked cars with the road on the other side.

Wellington City Council’s Planning and Environment Committee will consider a path out of the mess at a meeting next week.

Council officials have put two design options on the table- a short-term fix and a long-term fix.

One is a safety improvement proposal with resurfacing works at a cost of between $2 million and $3 million.

The improvements include wider traffic lanes, physically separated bike lanes, clear and consistent road markings, parking adjustments, and new speed humps.

This option would result in the removal of up to 101 car parks in residential areas to improve visibility at intersections and driveways.

This is more of a short-term fix that could be completed by April next year.

Road users would benefit from these smaller improvements until a decision is made on Let’s Get Wellington Moving’s mass rapid transit options and how construction would affect The Parade.

The other option for the cycleway is a long-term improvement proposal at a cost of up to $14 million.

This will build on the safety improvements in the first option with physical changes like kerb realignments, improvements to the intersections, bike lanes, bus stops, parking, and the road.

This option would result in the removal of up to 71 car parks in residential areas and up to 15 in the town centre.

Completion of The Parade upgrade under this scenario is not expected until early to mid-2024.

Wellington City Council Planning and Environment Committee chairwoman councillor Iona Pannett said many officials, elected members, and outside organisations have tried to resolve the issues with the cycleway over many years.

“I hope the paper will at least start to give the community a bit of confidence that we’re going to try and put some things right that weren’t done so well when it was first designed.”

Pannett said if councillors decided to go ahead with the cheaper option, the remaining money put aside for The Parade could still be used for its upgrade once a mass rapid transit option had been settled on.

“The money wouldn’t disappear.”

Regardless of which option councillors decide to progress with, The Parade would need to be changed again if mass rapid transit ended up going to the south, Pannett said.

“It wouldn’t survive because we would need to look at how we completely redesign the street to allow for pedestrians, drivers, mass rapid transit, and cyclists.”

But Pannett also noted a route for mass rapid transit was yet to be determined and construction would be more than a decade away.

Let’s Get Wellington Moving has indicated construction on big-ticket items like mass rapid transit will begin in 2028 and depending on the final package of options, will take between 8 and 15 years to complete.

The big question councillors will have to consider next week is how long they keep the Island Bay community waiting for a fix to their cycleway that was already promised years ago.

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