The Old Caversham Rail Tunnel group wants the Dunedin City
Council to commit to a thorough investigation of
redeveloping the disused Dunedin tunnel for cycle and
pedestrian use. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
In 1907, Mr D. Reid petitioned the local council for
public access; a similar proposal by the Dunedin Cyclist
Coalition in 1978 had "merit" - now a Dunedin group is
concerned plans to redevelop the disused Caversham Valley Rail
Tunnel for cycle and pedestrian use will be ignored by the
Dunedin City Council.
Proposals for next week's infrastructure services committee
meeting, released yesterday, outlining two preferred options
for the tunnel - to do nothing, or to investigate funding for
a survey by 2009-10 - have been described by an upgrade
advocate as "frustrating" and "a missed opportunity".
The report indicates paving and lighting the tunnel and
protecting electric and water utility services could cost
between $ 250,000 and $750,000.
Old Caversham Rail Tunnel group spokesman Gerard Hyland, of
Dunedin, said the report was "almost a repeat of the
submission made at a meeting in August".
"They had the opportunity to move to the next stage and Water
And Waste [Services] have just deferred any decision. And
there could be a two-year wait until for further
We have a Victorian era structure in good nick, apart from
drainage, and we should be highlighting it. Instead, an asset
of the city is being under utilised.
"It shouldn't just be a services conduit simply for private
use by water and waste."
He first inquired about use of the tunnel in 2005 and called
for a survey on costs of upgrading the 865m, 135-year-old
structure in the 2006 annual plan submissions.
In 2006, Water and Waste Services put up a gate at the
Kaikorai Valley entrance after identifying wet clay as a
potential source of noxious gas.
The tunnel was opened to the public in 1910 and "since the
1960s its been a conduit for utilities with the public going
through with no problems", Mr Hyland said.
A charitable trust could be formed to investigate options for
the tunnel and a shorter structure at Chain Hill, which could
provide links with the Otago Central Rail trail and access to
the Taieri area for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.
Mr Hyland questioned the estimated costs.
"There is no explanation of figures, which is one of the main
things we wanted. We would estimate about $200,000; there's
no way it's half-a-million, but I'm not an engineer."
City councillor and Central Otago Rail Trail trustee Kate
Wilson said forming a charitable trust may give the project
"Often these things can't happen as quickly as common-sense,
staff, or the public would like. I will be suggesting an
addition or alteration to recommendations so a charitable
trust can come on board.
"Tunnel projects are not core, essential business [for
council] but could be beneficial. Work done in partnership
with a community group might speed up any process. The [Otago
Central] rail trail is a good model for that. . . . there
might be land ownership issues with development at Burnside
and these need to be discussed now.
"I understand their frustrations but processes are there for