Linda Stewart, CEDA Chief Executive
NZTA needs to include a walking and cycling path in the replacement road route for Te Apiti – Manawatū Gorge. Not to do so flies in the face of current national, regional and local policy regarding walking, cycling, recreation and tourism.
Manawatū and our neighbouring region of Tararua is facing a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the Manawatū Gorge replacement route – Te Ahu a Turanga – the best it possibly can be from a driver and pedestrian point of view, and if NZTA do not include a shared path we risk lagging behind other regions and playing a costly catch up if we look to add this at a later date.
It is disappointing to see NZTA omit to include a shared walking and cycling path during the preliminary plans for the route and CEDA has made a submission to oppose this decision.
When you look at other regions and the costs around retrospectively adding pedestrian elements – think of the Government’s $67 million bill to create a SkyPath on Auckland’s Harbour Bridge – we do not want to fall within this camp.
We are working hard with our partners across a number of projects such as our Provincial Growth Fund application to explore future visitor-focused opportunities in and around Te Apiti – Manawatū Gorge, which include a strong focus on developing the current cycling and walking offerings. To exclude plans for a cycling and walking path in the early stages of Te Ahu a Turanga would be an oversight and we should not miss this opportunity given the significant scale and investment of this project.
Manawatu’s great outdoors and easy accessibility from surrounding towns is an important part of our fantastic lifestyle and our visitor offerings. We are calling on NZTA to listen to common sense – we are tasked with developing and enhancing the region in a number of ways and if a path is excluded, it risks eroding the significant work the region has underway.