It was fittingly raining when the final link in Wollongong’s Blue Mile was officially opened to the public on Saturday.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery joked his prayers for dry weather had worked and allowed the popular shared pathway linking Belmore Basin and North Wollongong Beach to open three-months ahead of schedule.
The Tramway project also came in on budget at $10 million.
“Being a minister of religion...I must admit that I did claim some of the skill-set of providing that fine weather,” Cr Brabery joked.
“I’m very conscious that there are those who wished for rain. But it has worked out well.
“The rain has come at last right on the opening day and here we are, the task is complete.
“We have got a great asset. Ten million dollars is a lot of money but at the same time I think we will get the benefits of that.”
The mayor said the shared pathway was wider, better lit and had seats where people could stop and enjoy the view along the way.
The area known as the Tramway is about 500 metres long and was originally built for coal wagons to haul coal from the mine on Mt Keira down to the harbour.
Works, which started in March 2017, included the construction of a new seawall, new balustrade, lighting and seating and an upgraded and widened shared pathway.
The new seawall featured 150 precast reinforced concrete panels – that weigh between 6 and 12 tonnes each. There was 750 metres of new kerbing and pit and pipe drainage put in along the site and 15 new light poles.
Underfoot there are some 8500 pavers and 19,000 individual stone cobbles have been laid and 520 metres of locally-made stainless steel and painted balustrade form the new sea-side handrail.
The federal government contributed $900,000 to the project through its stronger regional funding package.
Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said the government was pleased to have contributed to this complex project which has resulted in the creation of more than 100 jobs.
“For me as a Wollongong girl, this has been an iconic area. This is an iconic area. It is a place we all know, we remember, we all love to be near,” the Minister for International Development and the Pacific said.
“Eventually we will see this going from Stanwell Park down to Windang. I think it will be marvellous for our area.”
Despite the miserable weather, there was a good turnout at the public celebration to mark the Tramway opening.
North Wollongong resident William Cleary was among to many to express his happiness at the earlier than expected opening.
“I can ride my bike here again. There have been a few hairy moments riding my bike on the road above,” he said.