National one year on: Work starts on first cycleways in summer

By Claire Trevett

The first sod will be turned on Prime Minister John Key's national cycleway network within a month - and a Herald DigiPoll shows four in five New Zealanders will be cheering the occasion along.

Just over 78 per cent of those polled said they approved of Mr Key's proposal for a series of tourist cycleways - a resounding ``yes' for an idea scoffed at by many when it was first raised as a way to help create jobs in the recession.

Just 15.6 per cent disapproved and 4.7 did not know. Only 1.2 per cent said they did not care.

A spokesperson for Mr Key yesterday revealed at least four of the seven cycleways the Government has selected for fast tracking will be under
construction this summer. Although the route remains under wraps, within a month Mr Key is expected to celebrate the first ``sod-turning' of what he hopes will grow into a nationwide network aimed at attracting tourists.

Through a spokesperson, Mr Key said he was delighted at the high levels
of support for it in the DigiPoll - and expected the ``support and excitement' to grow as the cycle routes began to become a reality.

``I think it's fantastic that the cycleway has generated such strong
support before we have even started building. My vision has always been
that the cycleway will generate lasting economic, social, and environmental benefits for our communities.'

The spokesperson would not reveal which four routes had been approved,
and the remaining three are still being considered in detail. The seven are the Waikato River Trail, Central North Island Rail Trail, Mount Ruapehu to Wanganui, St James Trail, Hokianga to Opua/Russell, Hauraki Plains Trail and Southland Around the Mountain Rail Trail.

Mr Key allocated $9 million out of the $50 million set aside for the
cycleway in the Budget for the tracks.

The idea of a national cycleway was conceived at the Jobs Summit, held
early in 2009 to help find ways to get through the recession.

- NZ Herald

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