The extended Northern Line route from Belfast to South Hagley Park can be broken down into three main sections:
- Riccarton - from the Old Blenheim Road intersection with the rail corridor connecting to the existing rail corridor cycle path at Kilmarnock Street;
- Casebrook - from the end of the existing rail corridor cycle path at Tuckers Road to Styx Mill Road; and
- Belfast - from Styx Mill Road to Radcliffe Road.
The project scope also recognises the existing section of shared path between Harewood Road and Langdons Road (near Northlands Mall) that is discontinuous along Restell Street. This short link also forms part of the project. The scope assumes minor improvements only to the existing path between Kilmarnock Street and Tuckers Road.
Route options for each section have been assessed against the criteria detailed above, to determine the best route for each section, while keeping in mind how the sections fit together to form a continuous route.
1. Old Blenheim Road to Kilmarnock Street (Riccarton)
Of the six options identified within this section, a route along the rail corridor has been identified as the preferred option. This option avoids the use of busy urban streets and offers the most direct and coherent path between Kilmarnock Street and the end of the route at Old Blenheim Road. A path on the western side of the tracks is preferred as it can largely achieve an increased clearance from the railway line inaccordance with KiwiRail standards. Land currently being leased for car parking will restrict the path width for a short section near Leslie Hills Drive – a wider path at this location will be investigated subject to the availability of land. A new signalised pedestrian and cycle crossing across Kilmarnock Street will facilitate an easier and safer crossing.
An alternative off-road option using Hagley Park was also considered. Whilst providing a relatively safe and attractive route, this option is less direct and cohesive and requires a crossing at the busy Riccarton and Deans Avenue intersection. At the southern end of the route most cyclists are also expected to have destinations further to the west and not towards Hagley Park. However, if Kiwirail’s operational requirements preclude the route along the rail corridor then this will be the preferred route.
Four other options to run the route along on-road corridors were also assessed. These routes generally involved busy roads in a less comfortable environment, and were less direct than
the preferred rail route. The options would also introduce residential and business impacts associated with potential parking loss in high demand areas
2. Tuckers Road to Styx Mill Road (Casebrook)
The existing cycle path ends on the west side of the rail corridor at Tuckers Road. From this point, six different options were considered to extend the route north to the Main North Road intersection with Styx Mill Road. The preferred route is a continuation along the rail corridor through to the Main North Road overbridge. A path on the western side of the tracks is preferred, which will be consistent with the existing facility south of Tuckers Road. There is insufficient room on the east side of the tracks to provide an appropriate track offset, path width and drainage swale. Between Sturrocks and Barnes Road, the Barnes Reserve is located immediately adjacent to the west side of the rail corridor. This presents an opportunity to upgrade the existing path through the reserve and avoids the need for a new path within the rail corridor.
Upon reaching the Main North Road overbridge, a new path will continue parallel to the overbridge on the west side of Main North Road. This will provide a full off-road connection from the rail corridor to Styx Mill Road towards the Northwood area.
Similar to the Riccarton section, the rail/Barnes Reserve corridor offers a safe and coherent off-road option in a predominately traffic free environment, and minimises any potential impacts on local residents and businesses. This section of the route is projected to have a strong connection with the Wheels to Wings and Nor’West Arc Major Cycle Routes at Papanui, and the Belfast section of the Northern Line further north. The rail corridor therefore offers the most direct connection between these points whilst linking to Northwood through the Main North / Styx Mill Road intersection.
The construction of a path on the western side of the railway requires KiwiRail acceptance of a minimum offset between the path and rail tracks. Two alternative routes have therefore been identified for the Casebrook section and will form the preferred route should the rail corridor route be declined.
The alternative routes are:
- Tuckers Road to Sturrocks Road via Farnswood Place and Redwood Park; and
- Sturrocks Road to Main North Road via Regents Park Drive.
The other route options considered included Cavendish-Styx Mill Road and Tuckers-Main North Road. The Cavendish option is the longest route and is significantly less direct. Main North Road is a very busy arterial route with safety and comfort concerns for inexperienced cyclists. For these reasons both options were discounted. Other alternatives to Regents Park Drive were also assessed via Barnes Road to Canberra Place and through the Canberra Reserve, or upgrading a series of local pathways through the Aylsham and Sharnbrook Reserves within the Regents park subdivision. Due to route directness, legibility and width constraints, these options were not preferred.
3. Main North Road to Radcliffe Road (Belfast)
There are a number of urban growth and development areas in Belfast. Due to uncertainty with onset of this development we have initially identified a route up to Radcliffe Road. The preferred route is along the west side of Main North Road and will provide a direct connection to the new path from StyxMill Road linking to the rail path corridor.This route provides a strong link into Northwood and the neighbouring Supa Centa. The proposal also makes use of existing facilities through the widening of the path along Main North Road between Styx Mill and Radcliffe Road anda new signalised pedestrian and cyclist crossing over Styx Mill Road as well as widening of the Styx River bridge. This will provide a safe off-road facility, separated from traffic, and permits a quality cycle connection in the interim until development within the area proceeds.
In the longer term, a continuation of the path along the rail corridor is the preferred option for the Northern Line from Main North Road to the end of the route at Belfast Road. The development of this route will be subject to the same design and consultation process at the appropriate time.
4. Harewood Road to Langdons Road
The existing shared path between Harewood Road and Langdons Road is discontinuous. Heading north, the present arrangement requires path users from St James Park to cross Harewood Road and travel into Restell Street. Pedestrians and cyclists then utilise an approximate 100 m section of Restell Street past The Station Restaurant before the resumption of the shared path to Langdons Road.
Several options have been investigated to provide a full connection between Harewood and Langdons Road. The preferred option involves implementing a new short section of path along the western side of Restell Street to complete the missing link. The path is located within Council road reserve and will require reconfiguration of private car parking at The Station Restaurant. This route provides a safe, dedicated space for pedestrians and cyclists whilst retaining connectivity to the Restell Street area. This will be supported by new pedestrian and cyclist crossing signals at Harewood and Langdons Road to make for easier and safer crossings of these busy roads.