Submission 2008.1

Caversham Tunnel: I ask that the old Caversham Tunnel be reopened to the public, and developed as a cycleway and walking connection between Caversham and Kaikorai.

The DCC has a theoretical policy of encouraging physical activity and encouraging biking to work. This 865 m tunnel could have been made-to-measure as a flat, low-level access to South Dunedin. Just imagine the publicity DCC could garner from being "cycle-friendly" for tourists using this 1870's historic tunnel!

Several councillors publicly sneer about Dunedin's heritage buildings, badmouth the Historic Places trust, and openly proclaim their intention to bulldoze down historic buildings if possible. This shortsighted attitude ignores the fact that historic buildings underpin a large proportion of Dunedin's tourism. This tunnel could be an interesting addition to both local and overseas tourism.

This tunnel has been open to the public for almost a century, since the new two-track tunnel was opened in 1910, except for this last year. Many local people remember using it. It's very sad that as soon as an article appeared in the newspaper suggesting that the tunnel be used as a cycle way, the DCC closed it. I have been through several times myself, with other people including a 74 year old grandmother and a 4-year-old child. All we needed was gumboots, torches and windproof jackets.

Development will not be expensive at all. I do not envisage lighting- cyclists are accustomed to using bike lights, and walkers can bring torches. The tunnel is obviously well made, pretty much dry inside, and will only need an engineer's report and a bit of resurfacing. The barrier to easy access used to be deep mud, especially at the Caversham entrance. Ironically, access to the tunnel is now the easiest it's ever been, because of the gravel laid to allow easy access for workers putting in the locked gates over the tunnel entrances.

The DCC came up with some strange reasons for closing the tunnel.

One reason was vandalism. I doubt there have been any incidents of vandalism in this tunnel, and I challenge the DCC to produce any evidence to the contrary. Yes, there are pipes running through the tunnel, but these are as safe as any other pipes and wires running anywhere in the city. In fact I'm sure the infrastructure in the Caversham Tunnel is at far less risk from vandalism than the infrastructure in George St- so when is the DCC going to close George St? If vandalism or accidental damage is a real risk, a simple protective metal cover could enclose the pipes.

Another reason was something to do with the risk of stale air. This is nonsense- the tunnel is not a well or mineshaft. There is a constant breeze blowing through the tunnel, which is why you need sensible clothing inside.

And a final reason for re-opening the tunnel: it is such FUN! The closest walkable tunnels to town (apart from the old Wingatui tunnel, which is on private land and isn't a through trip, and the old Roseneath tunnel, which is blocked at the end) are Manuka Gorge, Owaka and the Rail Trail. Come on councillors! Have "Tunnel Vision"!

Will the DCC open the Caversham Tunnel as a cycleway and walkway?

What incidents of vandalism or public harm have been reported from the Caversham Tunnel over the past century of public access?

 

 

Outcome: Currently under review.

 

13/04/2008 from Annual Plan Submission , J Bruce