Options considered for coastal road

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Purchase of land and lowering of the road are among options being considered to ensure the preservation of the coastal road south of Oamaru.

Peter Aymes, spokesman of a newly-formed group concerned with the preservation of the coastal road, said the Waitaki District Council wanted to know what the group favoured.

“I’ve got documents from the council and doing an analysis on costings in broad terms. The next step is to have a meeting with council and the mayor and discuss options.”

He said at the start, the council appeared to favour closing portions, or all of the coastal road, because of the cost of repairs, although this had since changed.

“We thought they were wrong and that they should repair it.”

Erosion of the coastal road south of Oamaru covered about 9km, said Mr Aymes, and there were probably a dozen patches of between 10 and 50 metres which could be deemed serious.

“It’s not a huge amount, but the erosion has been ongoing and will continue.

“We need to look 20 years ahead. We need to have a plan to make sure the road is secure for 20 to 25 years and that is not a simple process. It may involve the purchase of land or the lowering of the road.

“The cost of the land needs to be stacked up against other options.”

He said the NZ Transport Authority was one funding option but there were “hoops to jump through” to gain this funding. The council had already set aside money for the road.

Mr Aymes said it was very early in the process, but the coastal road was important for the district.

“I think it’s a very scenic route and performs a number of functions. It’s a tourist route and a valuable addition to the scenery of Oamaru and the Waitaki district.”

He said various businesses used the route, in addition to tourists.

Former Waitaki mayor Alan McLay had supported preservation of the coastal roads and he welcomed the formation of the group headed by Mr Aymes.

“All I ask is there’s some discussion. We need to be proactive for solutions. It’s not just for access, but also for the future of tourism.”

Mr Aymes said the coastal road also provided an alternative route to State Highway 1.

“The angle to talk to NZTA is that it can be an alternative route when SH1 is closed. There’s no other alternative to get from Oamaru to the Millhouse.”

Council roading manager Michael Voss advised the council at its meeting this week that Mr Aymes’ group had requsted copies for submissions and consultants’ reports regarding the road’s future and these had been supplied.

By CHRIS TOBIN