Cycleways funding hailed; more hoped

Central Otago is likely to get "two bites of the cake" in cycle trail funding.

Acting Minister of Tourism Jonathan Coleman announced $2.54 million funding on Tuesday for construction of the 54km Clutha Gold trail, from Roxburgh to Lawrence, one of eight trails approved under the New Zealand Cycle Trail Project.

The 34km Roxburgh Gorge trail, from Alexandra to Roxburgh, has also been earmarked for funds but has yet to meet the criteria.

A decision on its funding is expected by the end of October.

Cycle trail programme manager John Dunn said one of the interesting things about the Clutha Gold trail was that it linked small communities.

"It's nice coming down the [Clutha] river. It's different.

"It's got some quite nice history along it.

"Cyclists could stop and spend 10 minutes reading about it."

It would also be a potential addition to the Otago Central Rail Trail, Mr Dunn said.

Central Otago Mayor Malcolm Macpherson said the Clutha Gold and Roxburgh Gorge trails, which would interlink and also connect with the rail trail, would be a boon for the district.

"It's great news for the region and all credit to the teams behind these two projects.

"There's been a lot of work behind the scene to get to this point.

"Although there's still work to be done, there's a pretty solid indication that both these trails will go ahead.

"They'll give us a nice regional network of cycle trails and some extra capacity at peak times when the rail trail is busy."

The success of the rail trail had built a solid foundation for the new trails and also provided a mass of information about the benefits such projects could bring to small communities, he said.

"Probably we wouldn't have got as far as we've got or so quickly if we didn't have the rail trail as a model.

"And because we had some numbers about its success and evidence of its impact, those things all added real strength to our case."

The district was fortunate to get "two bites of the cake" in trail funding, Dr Macpherson said.

Clutha Gold trail trust chairman Rod Peirce, of Roxburgh, said the proposed route still had to be finalised and the trust was negotiating with the 103 landowners along the way.

 

 "Some easements have been signed but we're still working through things with some landowners.

"In general, everyone has been very supportive of our plans."

Mr Peirce said the start of construction work depended on discussions with land owners but it was likely to be early next year before work began.

Central Otago District Council business development manager Jonathan Gadd said although the Roxburgh Gorge trail had fallen short at this stage, he was confident it would be successful in October, when the next round of funding would be announced.

"The cycle trail people have given us some minor issues that we need to address before it meets the criteria and I'm very confident we'll address those within the time frame.

"There's nothing there that's going to tip us over and count us out."

Both trails would contribute an estimated $3.5 million in annual gross domestic profit throughout Central Otago, Mr Gadd told a council meeting earlier this year.

- lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz

Cycleways
Clutha Gold Trail

- 54km Roxburgh to Lawrence
- $2.54 million approved for Roxburgh-Beaumont section
- Negotiations with landowners still under way
- Construction may begin early next year
- Promoted by the Clutha Gold Trail Trust

Roxburgh Gorge Trail
- 34km Alexandra to Roxburgh
- One of 12 trails earmarked for funding
- Must resolve some issues to meet criteria
- Funding decision in October
- Promoted by the Central Otago District Council

 

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