Limited access on canal road likely

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 27/02/2014
tekapo canal

NO GO: Genesis Energy’s proposed access arnagements for the Tekapo canal road.

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The Tekapo canal road will remain closed from State Highway 8, but Genesis Energy has promised extra recreation-friendly facilities.

The road has been closed since repair work began on the canals last summer, but Genesis spokesman Richard Gordon said it would allow alternate access from a 7-kilometre stretch near the Tekapo A power station.

"It's a safety issue, first and foremost. There have been a number of near-misses along the canal road, it's increasingly busy," he said. "However, we respect that it is a popular recreational spot for campers and fishers, and we will install extra toilet facilities near the canal."

Mr Gordon said there had been an extensive traffic-management study before making the decision about the canal road. However, he would not release the study to the Herald.

Genesis inherited the leaking Tekapo canal when it was forced by the Government to buy the Tekapo A and B power stations from Meridian Energy at a cost of about $800 million.

It began the second stage of its $125m repair work of the canal on January 6, which involved repairing and relining a 2km section known as the Maryburn Fill.

Mr Gordon said most of the work should be complete by the end of the week, while water should return to the canal today.

"But safety remains a priority ... there were even concerns when Meridian owned the canal," he said.

Meridian spokeswoman Michelle Brooker confirmed there had been concerns about the traffic levels on the canal road, as well as safety concerns about speeds and parking.

"Many of the tour buses and heavy-traffic companies using the road were contacted by Meridian on numerous occasions and asked to refrain from using the road in an attempt to reduce traffic volumes," she said.

Since Genesis announced its plans to close the canal road, there has been widespread criticism from recreational groups, as the road is used to access prime fishing and camping spots.

However, Mackenzie Mayor Claire Barlow recently described Genesis's proposal as a "good compromise".

Mr Gordon said it would spend the next few weeks finalising its access plans.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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