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The trust raising money for a cycleway through the old Chain Hills tunnel near Mosgiel has been successful in its efforts, after raising more than $500,000 in two months.
The trust says the tunnel should be open to cyclists before long. Just the old Caversham tunnel is still to go, to connect the city to Mosgiel, then by rail to Middlemarch and the rest of the South Island trails.
Dunedin Tunnels Trail Trust chairman Gerard Hyland said the trust had raised what it needed to buy the property controlling access to the tunnel.
The timing of its opening was uncertain, but the trust said it could be within ''eight to 18 months''. It still needed to raise about $30,000 more to pay for legal fees and to complete the necessary easements and surveying.
The council is considering the possibility of opening the old Caversham tunnel, with potential for a loop from Dunedin to the Otago Central Rail Trail, and back through the Roxburgh Gorge and Clutha Gold trails, through Milton, to Mosgiel.
Mr Hyland was overjoyed the trust had got over the line.
''It is absolutely brilliant,'' he said.
The trust announced in February a deal to buy the crucial property, but only if it could raise $550,000 in cash and loans by April 27.
Mr Hyland said once documentation was completed, the sale and purchase agreement would go through on May 11.
The trust would start the process of easement for the trail.
There was work to be done on the trail from Gladstone Rd to the property, which was an easement on another section of about 300m.
Other than that, the trust needed to work on the trail itself, and undertake repair work within the tunnel walls.
The tunnel itself was safe. It had two gas vents capped and sewerage pipes buried inside deep enough, and of a quality and an age that they were ''quite safe''.
On the city side of the tunnel, work to formalise an easement with KiwiRail was needed.
''It's been so many years of slow plodding, getting nowhere,'' Mr Hyland said.
''We suddenly went from that to 'OK, we've got two and a-half months to raise just over half a million dollars with community support'.
''You think 'How on earth are we going to do that'?''
But some ''very generous'' people from the community had helped, lending or giving money, with some big cash donations.
''It's just been awesome seeing the support.''
The Dunedin City Council's support was an important part of that, and it was ''right behind the project''.
Enterprise Dunedin destination manager Ryan Craig said: ''I think any access of the cycle network to the Taieri Plain is terrific.''
The council had supported the trust with more than $80,000 since 2012.
A council spokeswoman said the council had commissioned a report looking into what work would be required if the Caversham Tunnel was to be reopened.
Mr Craig said the initiatives would send good indicators about connecting Dunedin as a gateway to other trails, and was positive for tourism.
Cycling was a focus for both Tourism New Zealand and Enterprise Dunedin.
It would also enable the council to ''further the conversation with New Zealand Cycle Trail'', the government organisation whose objective it was to connect New Zealand by bicycle.
Asked whether opening the tunnels would help gain government funding, Mr Craig said it would ''provide leverage with those groups''.