After a $1.9 million spend and months of roadworks, travellers along Havelock Road have their thoroughfare back - and better than ever.
The upgrade of the cycle and pedestrian path along the Southern side of Havelock Road was part of the Hastings District Council's long term plan and evolved out of a corridor management plan produced in 2010.
The New Zealand Transport Agency funded 61 per cent of the cost of the work, with the rest coming from the Hastings District Council. The work builds on Hawke's Bay's existing cycleways which are getting national and international recognition, says Hastings deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers.
The new pedestrian and cycle path is wider - allowing it to be safely shared by walkers, runners and cyclists, and the work has included resurfacing Havelock Road and laying empty ducts under the works, which will allow for future infrastructure expansion by utilities companies. What has appeared to be an "extra lane" running down the centre of the road has now been painted with cross-hatching and is - for now - a median strip, says Ms Bowers.
"At this stage it is a safety measure so people can pull into the centre when they are turning," Ms Bowers said. "In the longer term it is future proofing the road. In the future that middle strip could be used for public transport. Several years ago there were plans sketched out that included a tram.
"That still could happen but it would be a long way off. There is also an option to use the extra strip to cope with increased traffic flow during peak time, turning it temporarily into a second lane, going one way in the morning and the other way in the evening."
Last year the traffic flow on Havelock Road was measured at 16,000 to 18,000 vehicle movements a day. This has posed safety issues for cyclists needing to cross the road from the northern side cycleway to the cycleway on the southern side, once they came into Heretaunga Street East.
"Now, cyclists can start out on the correct side of the road and remain there without crossing over, which is much safer," said Ms Bowers.
Eventually, the wider style of pathway could be extended to Heretaunga Street, says Ms Bowers, "but there are a lot of issues - including private property - to be considered so that would be in the very long term.
"The completion of the Havelock Road pedestrian and cycle path is the latest stage of a council vision that began five years ago - that 20 per cent of short trips be undertaken using alternate means of transport.
"We wanted to get people out of their cars and walking, riding bikes or using public transport. We have nice flat topography in Hastings and good weather, we just need to break the cycle of people getting into their cars without a second thought. We have come a long way towards that and this newest link is exciting."
The Havelock Road pedestrian and cycle path will be officially opened at 11am on Saturday March 19, with a ribbon cutting and two bike rides.
The ceremony will be held on the corner of Havelock Road and St George's Road with both cycle rides going down St George's Road, before splitting in to a shorter ride returning the same way and a longer ride going to Havelock Bridge, along Karamu Stream to Crosses Road Bridge and returning to the start point on St George's Road.