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Trails network master plan gets green light

The Five Towns Trail master plan. PHOTO/FILE

The three Wairarapa councils have received and provided support for the Wairarapa Five Towns Trail Master Plan.

The ambitious plan for a network of trails is set to cost almost $32 million and create 176 jobs.

It would develop almost 200km of recreational trails for walking and cycling, linking Martinborough, Featherston, Greytown, Carterton, and Masterton.

The bulk of the work would be externally funded, but councils may need to pick up the tab for maintenance.

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] was the final local authority to formally give its support to the plan this week.

South Wairarapa councillor Alistair Plimmer, who shared concerns last week about safety issues at the Tauherenikau Bridge part of the network, said “on the outset, I completely support the concept”.

“While this is an overarching document, the reality is parts of it are being built as we speak, and so there’s a bit of the cart coming before the horse.”

The completion of the bridge was earlier signalled to be in February, but lockdowns had pushed this back to July.

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang, who chairs the Wairarapa Trails Action Group [WTAG] which is leading the project, said it was in everyone’s interest that the Tauherenikau section not be opened “until we are happy that all safety concerns have been mitigated”.

Because the Tauherenikau Bridge was government-funded and is already under construction, it would be completed before a cycle trail linking it would be.

Lang, Plimmer, and other councillors had recently met residents of the nearby Underhill Rd who were worried about the width and conditions of the road connecting the bridge.

The residents felt that cyclists were at risk of injury because of it.

Lang told councillors at the SWDC meeting that “safety is number one … It has to be”.

He said if councillors received and supported the trail network’s master plan, it would enable work to be done and a presentation would be made to SWDC as to the best way forward in addressing risks.

It would also allow applications to be made for more funding.

“The master plan is very indicative, Lang said.

“As each section is rolled out, there will be full engagement with the community and stakeholders involved.– NZLDR

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