Further concerns over cycle trail

More concerns about the construction of the 34km Roxburgh Gorge cycle trail have arisen, but the trail trust and project manager say things are under control.

Russell Checketts, an Alexandra lawyer representing affected landowners Bruce and Leigh Johnston, has raised concerns about two aspects within the first 10km of the Alexandra to Roxburgh cycle trail. He said while he was not opposed to the trail, he questioned some of the research behind it.

One concern is around an area of loose rock - what looks like a rock slip - near Butchers Creek.

This area, known as the Narrows, is described in the trail feasibility project proposal as "the most unstable section" of the Roxburgh Gorge.

It goes on to say the side the trail will be constructed on is "particularly loose and unstable" and "several tenuous schist slabs defy gravity and are threatened with subsidence due to ongoing erosive currents undercutting the slip toe".

Mr Checketts said he had concerns over the stability of the land and safety of people, especially in the event of an earthquake or heavy rain.

Project manager Tim Dennis said they had not had their own geological report done but were relying on information from Contact Energy whose geologists were "very familiar with the area".

He said there was a requirement to have a geologist present when construction began across the "rock fall hazard".

He also said blasting would not occur around this area as any rocks needing to be moved were loose.

Though the trail trust did not have a report done, they had a geotechnical assessment done, as provided to Mr Checketts by New Zealand Cycle Trail programme manager John Dunn.

The assessment, by engineering consultant Frank Dennis, makes recommendations that the track be "made as wide as possible, 6m to 8m" through this area and a fence of wire mesh or some of the larger rocks be put down the centre to "act as a catch".

Mr Checketts' other concern is around the area by the Johnston property that the trust have had to amend following news their land survey had not correctly identified the marginal strip.

"As a result of the survey [commissioned by the Johnstons] I don't believe it is physically possible to get past without going on to the Johnstons' land, excavating to such a degree that it will affect their land, or to put fill in the river."

He said there is a "right of support" issue in that all land is entitled to be supported by the land next to it.

As the Johnston land is uphill of where the track would be constructed, it is at risk of a slip, if the trail was to be constructed too close.

However, Mr Dennis said they were confident they had enough room between the Johnston property and the river to safely construct the trail.


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