Consultation has concluded on concept designs for the remaining key links in the Beach to Beach (B2B) pathway project and construction is slated for July this year.
The riverwalk footpath is a community driven project that proposes a 11km continuous shared pathway between North Haven breakwall and Pilot Beach in the Camden Haven.
B2B president Penny Small said detailed designs have been finalised around the last five sections of the B2B pathway.
"The five sections that are left are getting the final tweaking for environmental and cultural needs. We are really hoping that by July this year we will be shovel ready," she said.
"We want the ability to start construction by then, but as with any large project some sections may be ready before others.
"The first section we want to get done are the two most dangerous areas where there is nowhere to walk except the road. That was identified as a priority during community consultation in 2019.
"To their credit, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams have put their money where their mouth is. They have actually been great to work with.
"This has been the biggest challenge to just get to that shovel ready stage. The goal posts did keep changing and legislation has changed.
"I know what it has the potential to be. It will be one of the biggest draw-cards for the local government area between two of the most beautiful beaches on the east coast.
"Imagine uninterrupted access, imagine a shared pathway to cycle, a half-marathon, sculptures, information about indigenous heritage and culture. Imagine a destination for feeding the mind, body and soul."
Last month the project received $100,000 in funding through round one of the Federal Governments Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. The funding will be allocated to Beach to Beach at The Parade, Camden Haven and the north west side of surf club carpark to Ocean Street.
This project completes the missing link of footpath along The Parade to the Surf Club, past the caravan park.
The first sections of the pathway were constructed earlier in 2003 as a partnership between community, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and the state government, on the Laurieton side of the Camden Haven Inlet.
The remaining sections of the pathway are titled D3, D5, D8, D10 and, D11 and will complete the project which has been driven by the B2B committee in collaboration with council.
A number of the remaining section of pathway intersect sensitive environmental areas, such as mapped coastal areas and littoral rainforest.
In October 2020, private landowner Steve Southon donated a swathe of his property to ensure one of the B2B project's most dangerous pedestrian sections can proceed.
The finalisation of the proposed pathway will look to traverse and/or run adjacent to these areas which have varying ownership which includes road reserve, private property, Crown Lands and National Park.
Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) were appointed by council to complete Environmental Impacts Statements (EIS) and a detailed design for the pathway.
The main objectives of the Beach to Beach Riverwalk include:
- Improve safety and accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists
- Provide a shared pathway link between North Haven Beach and Pilot Beach
- Provide a safe pedestrian access between schools, shops, and community centres
- Promote healthy activities, exercise and non-motor vehicle travel within the community
- Maintain and promote environment diversity
- Provide an important recreational asset that attracts an increase in tourism
- Deliver community initiatives
The project will assist in appropriately responding to the increased need for recreational facilities, in line with state and federal government objectives around health and wellbeing.