Sponsorship Mooted

Naming rights could help tunnel fund. 

Naming rights for the 139-year-old Caversham Tunnel could be up for grabs as part of fundraising efforts to reopen the 865m cycle and pedestrian route to Kaikorai Valley.

The Caversham and Chain Hills (200m) tunnels are a step closer to being reopened after tests showed there was no dangerous build-up of gases.

Dunedin city councillor Kate Wilson said a scheme assessment had been done by an engineer, showing good wind flow in the Caversham Tunnel.

Other major safety concerns would require more funding and Cr Wilson said one way of attracting sponsorship would be to offer naming rights in return.

She highlighted a number of lingering safety concerns, including protection for the gas, electricity, water and sewerage pipes that run alongside the walls or under the tunnels.

A legal position was also needed to decide if the tunnel would be considered a ‘‘confined work space’’ by the Department of Labour.

‘‘Also, whose duty it is to protect some of the assets in the tunnel? At the end of the day if it is Aurora or Nova [Energy], it is still Dunedin ratepayers who are paying for it,’’ Cr Wilson said.

Other issues included a warning system in case of a major gas leak and installing lights and CCTV cameras. Tunnel Trust spokesman Gerard Hyland said the DCC had only been asked by residents to fix the drainage issues back in 2006, but had sealed the tunnels off instead.

‘‘They put in really good ground fill and then the gates went up.’’

He hoped there would not be a series of delays in getting the tunnels reopened and the trust was keen to get on with the work.

Mr Hyland said the bulk of the funding for protection of the infrastructure, a suitable pathway and lighting would need to come from the community and through sponsorship.

They were looking for a volunteer arborist so they could start clearing the Kaikorai Valley end of the tunnel.

Cr Wilson said she was very supportive of getting the tunnels reopened and the council had given $100,000 to the project last year.

From The Star, Dan Hutchinson, Reporter