Safety fears prompt calls for walkway closure

Two deep holes undermining a steep section of a popular walking and cycle track have been partially fenced off, and the path could be closed completely until they are fixed, following fears that someone could fall in and seriously injure themselves.

Auckland Council contractors erected safety barriers around one of the three-metre deep slips, on a sharp bend on the walkway, just west of Whitmore Road, on Thursday July 27. This was in response to safety concerns raised by the Matakana Community Group.

However, before the job could be finished, Council realised the responsibility for the walkway lay with Auckland Transport, and the job was referred to them on Friday July 28 with the suggestion that the track should be closed.

Rodney Local Board member and chair of the Matakana Coast Trail Trust Allison Roe raised concerns over the walkway holes at last month’s Local Board meeting, and said afterwards she believed things had reached the stage where the track should be closed. She said she and several community members had logged complaints on AT’s website.

“I’ve been really concerned about them for quite some time,” she said. “I’m concerned because they are very deep, very steep holes, and they’re on a sharp corner. If anybody fell in, they wouldn’t get out, and if a child fell in, that would be unthinkable.

“It would be a shame to close the track because it’s such a good trail, but it’s got to the stage where it’s too dangerous and it needs to be sorted.”

The Matakana Community Group, which proposed and built the popular trail which links to Point Wells and Omaha, has been trying to get the problem fixed locally for some weeks, but constant bad weather and contractors’ heavy workloads have led to a longer than expected delay, according to member Scott McCallum.

Until last week, there were just two road cones placed either side of the track as a warning to users, and one of those had fallen into the deeper of the two holes. He says that if he’d known how long it would take to remedy the issue, the group may have acted differently.

“It may be a lesson to us to just close the track immediately, rather than keep the facility open with warning cones,” he says.


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