Cyclists are excited about accelerated planning for a bikeway over the route of Auckland's abandoned Eastern Highway project, from Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive.
The Transport Agency says it hopes to start the 7.3km link's first leg - from Glen Innes to the east of Purewa Cemetery in Meadowbank - by early next year.
A spectacular section next to the railway embankment across Hobson Bay will require resource consents, so is likely to be constructed later, unless the planners choose a more winding route between Ngapipi Rd and the shore.
Auckland Transport initially proposed a start of 2016-17 for what it envisaged as a $13 million project, to complete a cycling circuit around the isthmus between the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours, and Tamaki River.
Auckland Transport also plans feeder routes to the circuit, from New Lynn, Kohimarama, Pakuranga and the new Stonefields subdivision. The agency hopes to use land bought for the abandoned highway proposal of former Auckland City Mayor John Banks.
It will include widening a 2m boardwalk beside the rail embankment through Orakei Basin, which the former Hobson Community Board built about four years ago but which is proving too popular for cyclists and pedestrians to keep sharing safely. Agency northern planning manager Mieszko Iwashow and Auckland Transport officials hope property, consenting and funding issues can be dealt with in coming months, ready for construction to start over summer.
Although Auckland Transport still holds a designation for a highway corridor, the government agency has indicated it wants to sell the land once the cycleway is completed.
Cycle Action Auckland chairwoman Barbara Cuthbert is thrilled.
"This is a motorway designation that will be used for a cycleway - don't you love it?"
She said the cycleway would provide a valuable link between the central city and a high-tech industrial park proposed for Glen Innes, after Auckland University vacates its East Tamaki campus.
Orakei Local Board transport spokesperson Ken Baguley is also pleased about accelerated planning for a project that he says his board has promoted for four years. But he still holds a candle for the highway.