Cycleway project may get NZTA cash
Manawatu district is stepping up moves for an off-road cycle and walking link between Feilding and Palmerston North.
The bike route had been on the wish-list for many years, and Mayor Margaret Kouvelis said there was fresh hope the project could attract an NZ Transport Agency subsidy.
Ms Kouvelis was speaking at a meeting of the district and Palmerston North City Council's joint strategic planning committee this week.
She said encouraging discussions with the transport agency had indicated there could be a chance for assistance, if the two councils made a joint application that showed how the route would help connect to other transport links in the region.
The project is being led by the district council's strategy manager, Tracey Hunt, formerly a city council planner.
Ms Kouvelis said both councils had other priorities for spending, but the possibility of help from the transport agency would make the project more attractive.
City council road planning team leader David Lane said the city had no money for the project in its budget, but the prospect of a subsidy could change that.
The project had not been planned in any detail, and had not been costed either.
But from a practical point of view, the link could be planned and developed quite quickly.
The council had already provided clip-on cycle lanes on the Railway Rd overbridge and had built a walking and cycling path as far as Roberts Line.
From there, a paper road ran alongside the railway line to Bunnythorpe, which could easily be used for the track.
The section from Bunnythorpe to Feilding would be Manawatu's responsibility.
But Mr Lane had not been party to the recent discussions between Manawatu district and the transport agency.
He said if money were available for cycleways, the city considered getting cyclists off the road and onto a separate track from Palmerston North to Longburn as a higher priority.
NZ Transport Agency central region planning and investment manager Delaney Myers said she did not want to raise any false expectations that a subsidy would be available.
But there was always a possibility that some of the money allocated in the agency's walking and cycling budget would not be used in any three-year programme.
That would become apparent by the 2014-15 financial year.
"Our discussions with Manawatu have been in relation to helping them to put their best foot forward to prepare a case in the event that money becomes available. If not, they are in a good position to apply for the 2015-18 funding round.
"It's just good pre-planning, and we encourage that."