PM turns first sod on cycleway project

Prime Minister John Key has officially launched construction of the first national cycle trail on the banks of the Waikato River today.

The two new sections of Mr Key's plan to build a series of cycle tracks throughout the country run from the Waipapa Dam to Lake Karapiro and from Whakamuru to Mangakino, in the south Waikato.

The Government will spend $3 million of the $50 million set aside for the cycleway project on 41km of track to complete a 100 kilometre track that will follow the Waikato River.

Mr Key said the Waikato cycleway was already well advanced due to support from the community and corporate sponsors, and would be completed in time for the Rowing World Cup at Lake Karapiro in 2010.

The brand for the cycleway was also unveiled showing a stylised stick figure riding a bike with the slogan Nga Haerenga -- the journeys, The New Zealand Cycle Trail.

Mr Key said today was an important milestone for the project he adopted following the jobs summit early this year.

There are seven cycleway projects scheduled for a quick starts, including the Waikato River Trail.

Among these were:

* The Hauraki Rail Trail -- two linked trails running from Paeroa to Waihi and Paeroa to Thames, in the Thames Valley. Feasibility study to be completed by December 18.

* The Far North -- possible routes being examined for a 90km trail. Feasibility study expected by December 18.

* Central North Island Rail Trial -- a proposed 60km trail costing $4m awaiting further study on design and construction.

* Mountains to the Sea -- construction of two new trails creating a 245km ride in Tongariro and Whanganui National Parks. Initial construction begun in some parts with date of completion not yet known at an expected cost of $1 million.

* St James Trail -- 50km mountain bike trail being built by Conservation Department by late 2010.

* Southland/Queenstown Lakes - Decision on potential 175km trail expected by December 18.