Road support despite high costs

Most of about 100 submissions want the Oamaru to Waianakarua coast road kept open, even though it could cost ratepayers millions of dollars to address coastal erosion.

The Waitaki District Council produced a draft coastal roads strategy considering the future of the popular tourist and scenic route, which is used as a detour when State Highway 1 is closed.

It then asked people what they thought of closing some sections of the road when they were undercut by erosion and projected it could cost $6.5 million over the next 25 years to keep the road open.

Information meetings at Kakanui and Oamaru last month outlined the strategy and attracted strong opposition to closing any part of the road.

Already, the council has closed about 1.7km of Beach Rd between Gardiners and Thousand Acre Rds.

A detour runs along Gardiners Rd.

On Wednesday, councillors will hear from 24 submitters who want to make verbal submissions and consider the other written submissions.

When the council will make a final decision on the strategy depends on what councillors decide on Wednesday.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) said the draft strategy appeared to have been prepared by the council on the assumption no NZTA funding was available.

"NZTA has never stated this and retains the ability to consider applications on a case-by-case basis," it said.

It agreed some portions could be closed, but said "a more robust approach" needed to be taken with the remainder, including investigating whether they would meet criteria for subsidies.

The Kakanui Ratepayers' and Improvement Society wants the road kept open, saying the council "should not shirk its duties to ratepayers".

Vanished World, which has the road as part of its fossil and geological trail in North Otago, described the road as "one of North Otago's greatest assets".


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