Un­der­pass passed over

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By MARY-JO TO­HILL

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

for

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.

Photo: MARY-JO TO­HILL

Still up for dis­cus­sion: The long-cher­ished pro­posed Clyde un­der­pass would con­nect the town to the Otago Cen­tral Rail Trail.

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