Cycleway set for start
Construction of the Grafton Gully Cycleway will soon get under way but a pathway that cuts through the Symonds St Cemetery is still being discussed.
The cycleway will complete the missing link between the end of the northwestern cycleway and the city centre.
The existing northwestern cycleway runs from Te Atatu Peninsula to Ian McKinnon Dr.
It is one of the most popular cycle facilities in Auckland with about 500 people using it each day.
Extending it will cost about $10 million and see it continue through the Upper Queen St intersection and along the southern and eastern edges of the cemetery to Beach Rd.
Work is due to start in late October and be completed in stages by 2014.
As part of the project Auckland Council and Waitemata Local Board are considering if a separate pathway needs to be included that would link the cycleway with Symonds St and K Rd.
Waitemata Local Board member Christopher Dempsey says there is some sensitivity around the issue in light of the disruption that was caused to the cemetery in the 1960s when the southwestern motorway was built.
To make room for the motorway more than 4000 bodies were dug up and interred in two separate memorial sites.
The cemetery has been closed for burials since 1886 but the exhumations caused a stir with the dead’s living relatives.
‘‘As much as possible the board would like to see the integrity of the heritage site preserved,’’ Mr Dempsey says.
A sole-purpose cycle- way isn’t the only option and a shared-use pedestrian and cycle path could be favourable, he says.
‘‘The challenge is how to create a link that doesn’t disrupt the cemetery feel. You have an image of a cemetery as being somewhere were people go to contemplate and reflect. You are engaging in a particular state of mind. People slow down, they don’t usually cycle through a cemetery. It would adhere to the mood of contemplativeness and respect,’’ Mr Dempsey says
The board is likely to make a decision on the link by the beginning of next year.
While the board hasn’t had much public feedback on the idea, commentary generated by some media reports has mostly been supportive of a link, Mr Dempsey says.
Historic Places Trust northern hertiage adviser and planner Duncan McKenzie is reasonably satified that a cycleway will not adversely affect the cemetery’s heritage values.
‘‘In fact introducing more people to the cemetery could lead to better protection of those values. However any proposals for new tracks from the cycleway going into the cemetery itself will need to approached with caution.’’
Cycle Action Auckland chairwoman Barbara Cuthbert is calling the cycleway the most exciting cycle project being undertaken at the moment.
‘‘They call it a cycleway but really it’s a cycling super highway.
‘‘It gives you the access you would get from a motorway.
‘‘It’s direct and gets you exactly where you need to go,’’ she says.