Dunedin biker Gerard Hyland enters the Caversham portal.
Gerard Hyland happily admits to having "tunnel
Since 2005, Mr Hyland and fellow "Old Caversham Rail Tunnel"
advocate Jane Bruce, of Dunedin, have developed plans for the
disused 865m tunnel to be re-surfaced and lighting installed
to provide bicycle and pedestrian access between Caversham
and Green Island.
Last month they launched a website, www.cavershamtunnel.org.nz,
which has since received more than 300 hits.
About 150 people responded to a three-page online
questionnaire about usage.
"We hope there is a ground swell and the site creates some
It is almost a criminal waste to see a Victorian era tunnel
sitting there disused.
The response has been encouraging and the majority of
respondents think it's a brilliant idea," Mr Hyland said.
The tunnel would allow cyclists travelling from the centre of
Dunedin to reach the Taieri area (via the nearby disused
Chain Hills Tunnel) and recreational and commuter cyclists to
access Green Island and Brighton over less hilly terrain, and
with little exposure to high-volume traffic areas.
Initially, a tunnel with a gravel base would "get the project
up and working" but long term a sealed surface with lighting
(possibly activated by motion sensors) would mean more people
could use the tunnel with less concern for personal safety,
The pair first approached the Dunedin City Council in 2006,
and were then told cost estimates for the project would be up
Subsequent correspondence with the council indicated
estimates, which may have included the cost of a raised
walkway, ventilation and lighting, would be significantly
"We were astonished when I later heard they were $600,000 to
$850,000," Mr Hyland said.
Infrastructure Services Committee chairman Andrew Noone said
as the proposal was presented during this year's annual plan
submissions, a report would be made later this year on the
feasibility of re-opening the tunnel.
"We would have to consider the practicalities and cost would
be a driver.
It's a wonderful asset but in its current form the tunnel is
only being used for services.
The potential exists for it to be used in other ways, which
is wonderful for the city but, as I say, it comes down to
practicality and further investigation would be needed."
Cr Noone and council staff visited the tunnel in 2006.
"We walked 100m and no further with a gas monitor and it
certainly was active. It indicated it was not good idea to
stay in there for too long. Underfoot the floor was very wet
"In its current form it's not a place [one] would want to go
in running shoes."
Cr Noone said he and council representatives would meet Mr
Hyland on August 21.