Group upset over Feilding to Palmerston North cycleway delay

Frank Goldingham, at the end of the walkway in Feilding, which is proposed to carry on to Palmerston North.
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Frank Goldingham, at the end of the walkway in Feilding, which is proposed to carry on to Palmerston North.

Cycle groups are upset funding for a proposed cycleway from Feilding to Palmerston North has been declined.

The project to connect Feilding to the city has the backing of the Manawatu District and Palmerston North City councils, however, the New Zealand Transport Agency says the proposed thoroughfare is a low priority.  

It declined funding for the pathway, which would make up part of the national Te Araroa trail, citing high demand for cycling projects throughout the country.

Te Araroa Manawatu Trust chairman Frank Goldingham is an advocate for a cycleway from Feilding to Palmerston North.
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Te Araroa Manawatu Trust chairman Frank Goldingham is an advocate for a cycleway from Feilding to Palmerston North.

The estimated cost for the path is $1.15 million. 

The Manawatu District Council was hopeful the project would attract a 53 per cent subsidy from the transport agency, leaving it with the remaining $540,000. 

The agency's decision to defer funds had Te Araroa Manawatu Trust chairman Frank Goldingham "deeply concerned". 

He said the Te Araroa trail passed through Manawatu, with part of the route running from Feilding to the city. 

This year, more than 600 people walked the trail.  

"The main problem with the section of the Te Araroa Trail running through the Manawatu is the amount that requires walking along roads," he said. 

"It is the only place in the North Island that the trail runs on a very busy main highway.

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"It is a wonder that no walker has been hit by a passing vehicle."

Feilding and District Promotion chairman Jason Smith said more could be done to highlight the trail.

For Terry Columb the proposed pathway represented an escape from reality and wouldn't only be used by cyclists. 

Columb has osteoporosis in his hip, knee and hands and is confined to a mobility scooter. 

"Young and old would enjoy a day out in the fresh air," he said. 

"My enclosed mobility has a range of 70 kilometres so that would make a beaut way of travelling to Palmerston North to enjoy the scenery."

Manawatu mayor Helen Worboys has instructed the community to "watch this space" as the council continues making funding requests.  

The proposed pathway would be a major network for not only recreation, but for work commuters as well, Worboys said.   

"We're dedicated to leaving the project on the table. We think this is important, but it shouldn't be funded 100 per cent by ratepayers.

"We need to be creative about finding ways to fund this."   

Palmerston North mayor Grant Smith said the city council would be developing a pathway from Palmerston North to Bunnythorpe in 2018/2019. 

He wanted to see the pathway extended to Feilding with assistance from the agency. "I would like to continue our efforts with [the Manawatu District] Council to seek support for the Feilding to Palmerston North project from the NZTA. 

"We are also happy to work together on other shared path or cycleways as they are proposed." 

Agency regional relationships director Lisa Rossiter said officials wanted to see the project go ahead. 

Rossiter said funding was "over-subscribed" when both councils applied due to the "unprecedented demand" for investment in cycling projects across the country. 

"The transport agency looks forward to working with the two councils to further develop the cycleway proposal, including working through the processes for seeking investment from the National Land Transport Fund."

Horizons chief executive Michael McCartney said the agency was the only hold on the project. 

 - Stuff

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