Safe path ‘massive’ for pupils
Twelve years since a child last biked or walked to Whakarongo School in Palmerston North, the first group of students ran along the James Line to Stoney Creek Rd pathway on Friday.
School board chairman Phil Ward said the 1.2-kilometre pathway running alongside the fencedoff railway line would relieve traffic congestion at school pickup and drop-off times.
‘‘It will redefine how our kids get to and from school.
‘‘It will make a massive difference in the lives of our students.’’
Having a safe route through to Kelvin Grove would also better connect the school and community and provide opportunities for more social interaction.
Ward said it was remarkable to be opening the pathway just one year after the school put its case to a city council hearing for a safe and healthy alternative for some 500 children getting to and from school.
He said mayor Grant Smith and councillors had listened, and had enabled construction of the $230,000 facility that would be cherished by the community.
Ward said Cr Ross Linklater had been visionary in driving the project, and Blackleys Construction, which built the path, had been ‘‘our dream makers’’.
‘‘They have transformed paddocks and mud and have done a fantastic job.’’
Director Kevin Blackley said he and his siblings had been Whakarongo school pupils, when the roll was 98 and most children walked or biked to school.
Higgins applied the hot mix and KiwiRail had also co-operated on the project, and J Collins did the fencing to ensure pathway users were safe away from the tracks.
A pedestrian crossing over the tracks at Stoney Creek Rd would be patrolled by staff before and after school, and access to the crossing would be locked at other times.
Contractors had worked with the school to provide an off-road link down to the school grounds.
Whakarongo board of trustees chairman and police Senior Sergeant Phil Ward, with Mayor Grant Smith, speaks at the official opening of the pathway, as pupils from the school look on.