West Town Belt – Victoria St / Edgecumbe underpass

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The West Town Belt Master Plan is now up for submissions on Hamilton City Council’s “Have your Say” page. For this post I thought I would look back to the 1988 Draft ‘Town Belt Management Plan’ with regard to the Edgecumbe Park concept plan, focusing on  ‘Possible future pedestrian underpass combined with the Waitawhiriwhiri Stream pipe to link the W.T.B [West Town Belt] walkway with the river walk system’

Recent sandbagging shows the idea of building a wall and using the existing floor as a pedestrian underpass, with an access path extending under the footpath at the bridge, then looping round and connecting up to the existing river path.

The idea looks like a practical way of providing a safe crossing under Victoria Street. However, there could be a concern with the existing floor being at an elevation of about 12m above sea level, which means it will regularly close due to flooding. As a reference the Grantham Street boat ramp car park is 14m to 15m above sea level.

Option ‘B’ is to build a raised floor. The existing river path bridge is too close to ramp up to, so there is a need for a bridge realignment, or to move or even build a new second bridge.

The existing river path bridge is 2.7m wide, supported by 3 universal beams spanning 20m. Its hand rail tapers out to 3.2m at bike handlebar height[, and its centre line is 5.5m away from the Victoria Street retaining wall. With the river path (Te Awa river ride) becoming busier and busier in the near future, bridge widening may be a good idea here anyway.

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Whitiora Bridge – Boundary road

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In 2005 Hamilton had three bridges with on-road cycle lanes. In 2019 only one bridge has cycle lanes (the south side cycle lane on the Victoria Bridge has been reduced to 1 metre; I’m not sure if we can call that a cycle lane, so maybe we could say 6 cycle lanes in 2005, 1 in 2019). The first act of the 2005 ‘Access Hamilton plan’ was to remove the cycle lanes from Whitiora Bridge, after the then Mayor said that “Access Hamilton’s vision is one of efficient and secure access around the city for everyone, whatever means of transport they choose to use.”

The reality is that the Access Hamilton plan has allowed the car to dominate and once the single occupant car driver starts using a piece of road width, taking any of it away from them will panic them into asking for their right to dominate to be protected. The assumption is that change will be resisted and that resistance will be successful. The 2005 Access Hamilton plan expects this to continue, as stated below:

Some time ago the people from Livingstreets suggested there is room under the bridge to suspend a cycle and pedestrian path.

As an example, in Canada BC, the Richmond Canada Line Bridge has a path bolted to the side of the bridge; this first photo shows the supports.

The scale of the supports looks impressive. Below is a closer look and a link to more photos showing a lot more detail. They show that the supports are made from a Universal Column, with each of these supports being held in place by six bolts. The path looks to be a good 4m wide.

The radius of the curve under the Whitiora Bridge is about 1.2 to 1.3m, and the flat area is about 2m, giving a total of just over 3m of cover above the proposed path, which is similar to the Canada Line bridge.

Category: News