Cycle trail ‘biggest benefit’ from quake
A proposed cycle trail from Picton to Kaiko¯ura could pump more than $100 million into the Marlborough economy over the next 20 years, a new feasibility study says.
The study, commissioned by the Marlborough District Council, includes measured benefits of the trail and also maps out a way forward in terms of who would take ownership of the trail’s development.
The report, released this week, estimates the track would cost less than $9m to build, but could claw back at least $70m, but possibly up to $130m, over 20 years.
Marlborough Mayor John Leggett said the trail could be the ‘‘single biggest benefit’’ for the region following the Kaiko¯ura earthquake.
‘‘From a difficult and traumatic event, it is fantastic to see a visionary idea come to fruition, with such wide support from the community,’’ Leggett said.
‘‘Overall, the report is very positive. The trail could deliver a much-needed economic boost to the east coast of Marlborough, bringing new visitors and job opportunities to our region.’’
The Marlborough sections offering the greatest potential in the medium term were Blenheim to Seddon and Seddon to Ward.
While the overall capital cost was estimated at $8.95m, approximately $5.76m of that related to the Marlborough section of the trail. Ongoing maintenance on the trail was estimated at $150,000 a year.
‘‘It’s likely that parts of the trail can open, piece by piece, before the whole thing is complete,’’ Leggett said.
‘‘It’s a bit of a jigsaw that will need a great deal of co-ordination between different parties to achieve its ultimate goal.
‘‘I’m confident that the many agencies and individuals involved can work together to achieve it, and it will become a great addition to the Marlborough and Kaiko¯ura tourism industries.’’
There was still a long road ahead with funding and infrastructure challenges at the forefront, but these were ‘‘not insurmountable’’, Leggett said.
The idea was first floated by well-known wine industry figure Dr John Forrest in January.
Forrest, who became chairman of the Coastal Pacific Trail working group, said the report endorsed the group’s thinking as to the strengths and benefits of the project.
He agreed funding remained the main challenge, alongside developing the relationships between trail stakeholders.
A piggy bank of donations and council grants was growing, which Forrest said were investments to get the ball rolling.
He said the group’s next step was finding a project manager to lead the large-scale project which involved KiwiRail, district councils, the New Zealand Transport Agency and private landowners from Marlborough to Christchurch.
‘‘The next six months will be spent planning the infrastructure and bones of the funding.
‘‘We hope to be constructing at the beginning of next year,’’ Forrest said.
The study said between 18,000 and 35,000 people could be expected to use the trail each year, creating between 45 and 88 jobs in accommodation, food and beverage, retail and recreation services once the trail was operational.
It also recommended changing the name of the trail to avoid confusion with a KiwiRail journey of the same name.
Coastal Pacific Trail working group’s John Forrest, left, Paul Wilson, Janet Mackay.