Staged approach likely for proposed tunnels trail

Cyclists emerge from a disused railway tunnel on the Alps 2 Ocean track. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Cyclists emerge from a disused railway tunnel on the Alps 2 Ocean track. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The proposed Dunedin tunnels trail may need to be stripped down to a more basic project initially to get its wheels spinning, it has been signalled.

A staged approach appears likely for the planned cycling and walking trail featuring two Victorian-era disused railway tunnels between Mosgiel and Dunedin.

Lack of government money might also lead to a low-spec trail being developed initially to get something under way, Dunedin Tunnels Trail Trust chairman Gerard Hyland said yesterday.

Redevelopment would then be needed later to get the trail up to a better standard.

The trail concept has attracted emphatic popular support, but NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi funding prospects have dimmed after a change of government.

Mr Hyland told a Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council future development strategy hearing yesterday the trail remained an important project.

He urged the city council to deliver it in the shortest development time possible, first completing the section from Mosgiel to Green Island, then from Green Island to Caversham.

A completed trail would service a population of about 30,000 in Mosgiel, Fairfield, Green Island, Abbotsford and Caversham, as well as central Dunedin.

It could replace hundreds of car journeys a day, reducing traffic congestion, he said.

The trail was not a "nice-to-have additional cycle track for a small minority", but essential transport infrastructure that was well overdue.

Repairs were being carried out at the Chain Hills tunnel near Mosgiel, and it could be safe for people to walk through by the end of next week.

Getting the Caversham tunnel ready would be a more difficult assignment, as utilities still ran through it.