Cycle track plan moves at snail's pace

By Eloise Gibson

A feasibility study  is still under way into the Hauraki Plains cycleway. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey
A feasibility study is still under way into the Hauraki Plains cycleway. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

A year after John Key announced plans for a national cycle trail, not one metre of trail has been built using money from the new cycleway fund.

The New Zealand Cycle Trail Project has given a preliminary nod to 13 new stretches of trail, and agreed to give money to six others that were nominated for quick start funding to get the project off the ground.

A spokeswoman said none of the money had yet been paid.

The Department of Conservation has begun clearing vegetation from two of the paths on its land at its own cost, using money it has re-allocated from other projects.

At least two of the quick start trails - Hokianga to Opua and the Hauraki Plains - are still undergoing feasibility studies.

Meanwhile New Zealand Cycle Trail is in negotiations over funding agreements with councils and other groups who will build the other quick start trails.

Following the Job Summit last year the Government announced $50 million to create series of great rides throughout New Zealand.

The plan is to boost tourism using the model of the popular Central Otago rail trail and to create jobs for workers building the tracks.

In July, New Zealand Cycle Trail announced $18 million would be given to quick start projects, including the Hauraki Plains and Waikato River Trail.

Four of the seven quick start trails were chosen partly because local operators were in a position to start building them this summer.

DoC spokesman Reuben Williams said New Zealand Cycle Trail had agreed to pay just under $2.4 million for two quick start trails on DoC land - the central North island and Mountain to Sea trails.

DoC would pay a total of $3 million.

A third trail on DoC land, the $490,000 St James trail (Lewis Pass) in the upper South Island, will be paid for entirely out of DoC's budget.

As for the other trails, Cycle Trail spokeswoman Mei Taare said the fund had committed to pay up to $3.8 million towards the Waikato River trail.

The other negotiations were not at a stage where she could name a figure.

The money would be handed over to the successful regional groups after agreements were signed.

Ms Taare said the Cycle Trail fund had already paid $600,000 for feasibility studies for the quick start trails.

Based on information from its regional partners, it estimates each quick start trail could employ up to 40 people to build it.

The bigger benefits are expected in the long term, if the network attracts more overseas tourists and encourages them to spend longer stays in smaller towns.

Aside from the quick starts, another 13 other trails have been approved for the second phase of the project.

They will undergo feasibility studies by the end of May to decide if they go ahead.

They will receive up to $3.5 million each if promoters can satisfy the trail fund of their business cases.

STAGE ONE - WHERE IT'S AT

Hokianga to Opua: Undergoing feasibility study.
Hauraki Plains: Undergoing feasibility study.
Waikato River: Up to $3.8 million committed but not yet paid by New Zealand Cycle Trail.
Central North Island: $2.1 million to be paid by New Zealand Cycle Trail, $1.9 million by DoC.
Mountain to Sea: $277,000 to be paid by New Zealand Cycle Trail, $1.1 million by DoC.
St James: To be funded by DoC with no funding from New Zealand Cycle Trail.
Around the mountain: Contribution not yet decided.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 23 Dec 2014 11:06:52 Processing Time: 583ms