Submission 2006.1

 Submission: Re-establish the old Caversham - Kaikorai Valley rail tunnel as a walking and cycling track.

I would like to request that the disused rail tunnel running from Caversham to Kaikorai Valley be re-established as a walking and cycle track, providing both an interesting Dunedin Heritage walk as well as a safer and easier cycleway in and out of Dunedin for the southern end of the city.

This submission fits neatly within the DCC Draft Transportation Strategy for both cycling and walking. As a commuting option it eliminates the Lookout Point barrier; enables the cyclists to be able to move away from major traffic flows; provides an instant, local, accessible tourist attraction of Dunedin's heritage; and follows the general increase of awareness and participation in outdoor activities and the "green economy".  This also goes directly to the Infrastructure Targets (1.1) of the Cycle Strategy document for increasing the length of off-street cycle paths, and Infrastructure Actions (1.1, 1.7, 2.4, 2.6).

The current unpleasant state of both entrances with rubbish, foul mud, and inadequate drainage means that this rather impressive historical accessway is being completely wasted.  This is not only a part of Dunedin's history that needs to be preserved and used, but an incredible resource that should be utilised to the full for recreation as well as commuting.

At a minimum, the rubbish at both ends should be removed and the drainage repaired so access to the tunnel would be possible for walkers and cyclists. Additionally, the use of gravel or compact fill at the entrances and through the tunnel would bring this accessway up to the same level as those tunnels along the Otago Central Rail Trail. The addition of a short zigzag ramp at the Kaikorai Valley entrance would allow for easier access by cyclists.   At the Caversham end, there is already direct access to the controlled intersection allowing for safe entry/exit to the existing signposted cycleway.

Pedestrian lighting within the tunnel would not be necessary and would leave the tunnel in an historic state of preservation.  However, a full-scale project implementing lighting and a boardwalk to and through the tunnel would create a "Crown Jewel" New Zealand walkway that Dunedin could be justifiably proud of.

There are a number of groups within the Dunedin area who would be able to supply time/labour to assist in track creation and maintenance of this route, with the DCC providing materials and equipment.  

The current use of the tunnel as a conduit by Water and Waste Services for sewage pipes and (currently unused) gas pipes could be safely continued with the installation of a mesh fence to avoid accidental damage.  To deny the general public use of this amazing historic asset seems almost criminal when it has such huge potential for the city, community, and local tourism.

In summary, I would request that the remedial maintenance of drainage and rubbish removal be carried out as soon as possible; and a sum of money allocated to upgrade the present tunnel to that of a serviceable and usable accessway for pedestrians and cyclists; with further investigation into future redevelopment of the tunnel as a fully-serviced boardwalk.

Outcome: declined due to estimated possible costs of over $500, and both ends gated due to Health concerns.  Caversham end of tunnel entrance cleared, drained and new surface laid.

07/04/2006 from Annual Plan Submission 2006, G Hyland