Support for carrying out a feasibility study into developing the disused Napier-Gisborne rail line into a cycling trail is continuing to grow.
Tukituki MP Craig Foss and Napier candidate Wayne Walford were out in force gathering signatures for a petition supporting a cycleway on the defunct Napier-Gisborne line.
There is no requirement of a minimum number of signatures required but we are aiming for a thousand, Mr Foss said.
And we are well on the way to getting that.
On Saturday Mr Foss and Mr Walford stopped by at a Ramblers Cycling Club event at Puketapu and received a series of thumbs-ups for the cycle trail in the form of signatures.
Mr Foss said the appeal of a bike path, which would be a continuation of the growing network of national cycleways, was not just confined to competition or club riders.
It is coming from people across the board.
He said there appeared to be a growing acceptance that the rail line was not going to re-open.
It is not viable and it is not happening, and while that is sad it does create other opportunities and this is one which can create jobs as well as the social and health benefits.
Mr Foss and Mr Walford said it was case of making a positive out of the line which has been mothballed for two years and said many people they had spoken to likened its potential to that of the successful Otago Rail Trail.
The Sunrise Rail Trail would be the best in the country we have to seize this opportunity, Mr Foss said.
Some opponents had highlighted the washed-out bridge, which led to the lines demise as being a stalling point, but Mr Foss said it was not.
Sure, there are issues and we acknowledge the challenges but we can do it, he said.
He pointed out that creating a cycleway bridge was nowhere near as demanding as creating a bridge to take several-tonne trains.
He said a swing-bridge walkway could be built as a link.
There was no fixed time frame for the completion of the signatures of support or the subsequent carrying out of a feasibility study.
The Hawkes Bay Regional Council is, however, continuing to support a scheme to get the closed line back into regular service.
The council has earmarked just under $5.5million in its draft annual plan to re-establishing the rail link which was mothballed in December 2012.
That investment is dependent on KiwiRail and the Government funding the line's re-opening, although Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has indicated the Government is not interested in paying for the work needed to bring it back up to scratch.