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Bike men....Philip Brownie, left, and Simon Bird are keen for the planned trail to link up with the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

Plans to build a Caroline Bay to Tekapo “Alps to Bay” cycle trail are under way.

Central South Island Cycle Trails Inc has received an assurance from Fulton Hogan to build phase 1 of the project, from Washdyke to Kennels Rd.

The group has applied also for $150,000 from the Timaru District Council’s $2million Covid-19 stimulus fund to complete the first stage, from Washdyke to Pleasant Point.

The total cost of this leg would be $600,000.

Group spokesman Simon Bird said the group hoped the council would take over control of completed sections of the trail and be responsible for its long-term maintenance.

Central South Island Trails was established three months ago to construct the multipurpose trail.

“The main plan is to connect with the Alps 2 Ocean and so that the trail acts as a spine that can then connect other South Canterbury communities and townships,” Mr Bird said.

“This will enable and support the branching out of cycle trails in and around the central South Island.”

Caroline Bay was being considered as a finishing/starting point for the trail, he said.

“It would be nice to bring it to the centre of Timaru.”

The group had a great deal of expertise to advance the project, Mr Bird said.

He was a civil engineer with a managerial role for South Canterbury roads, while there were others from legal, accounting and marketing backgrounds.

Parts of the trail would follow the old rail corridor from Timaru to Fairlie.

“The neat thing is there is a bit of history with it and in the long term we would be able to reflect that with signage.”

Stage 1, from Washdyke to Pleasant Point, would be completely off State Highway 8 on the road berm or Land Information New Zealand land.

Two portions of the route were over privately owned land and the owners had given approval in principle.

From Pleasant Point there were several possibilities to extend to Cave.

Subject to funding, construction could start this year, Mr Bird said.

The council decided a report needed to be prepared on all options of vesting the trail in the council and any reprioritisation of the existing budget.

If a vested asset, it would come with an annual cost from year two on, it said.