Underpass passed over
Minor work to support the proposed underpass connecting Clyde to the Otago Central Rail Trail has been excluded from the council’s three year roading improvement plan because it doesn’t fit the criteria. Roading manager Julie Muir said had the New Zealand Transport Agency given the project the green light, the Central Otago District Council would make construction of a path and retaining walls on either side of SH8 a high priority. ‘‘We have therefore not excluded the project, it is still a high priority for us to do. It has just been deferred until such time as NZTA are ready to construct the underpass itself,’’ Mrs Muir said. She was not aware of any other available funding. The transport agency’s assets manager John Jarvis said the latest estimate for the Clyde Underpass was $350,000. Vincent Community Board chairwoman Cr Clare Higginson said the proposed underpass was still a must-have for Clyde people. Over the years, the transport agency had presented various options and designs, the last being ‘‘quite an elaborate structure’’ which some felt was unnecessary in a country area, Ms Higginson said. Queenstown Trails Trust chief executive Kaye Parker said an
underpass, still under construction at neighbouring Gibbston, was expected to cost about $340,000, and would form part of a 110 kilometre cycling and walking trail, due to open in October. That project was not funded by the transport agency, but from a $2m government grant, the result of Queenstown being included in a $50m ‘‘start up’’ fund set aside for the New Zealand Cycleway Great Rides. Otago Central Rail Trust chairwoman Daphne Hull said that while the government paid tribute to the rail trail, the ‘‘trail blazers’’ in the establishment of the 150km trail in 2000, the project had not qualified funds. However, at the onset, the rail
start-up trail attracted other public money from the Conservation Department and the Ministry of Tourism. Any other funding had been raised from grants, and an underpass at Clyde was certainly on the trust’s wish list, she said. It would not be funded by the trust because of the ongoing expense of developing the existing trail. ‘‘If other sites are a higher priority because of death or potential danger we can’t argue that, but it is disappointing. ‘‘We just have to keep making noises to make it happen.’’ Mrs Hull said she was pleased the council had given the work a high priority, and it would now be a matter of keeping the project at the forefront so that it would not be put on the back burner for too long.
Still up for discussion: The long-cherished proposed Clyde underpass would connect the town to the Otago Central Rail Trail.