Council backs rail trail extension

THE Great Southern Rail Trail is well on the way to becoming one of the grandest trails in Australia.
South Gippsland Shire Council last Wednesday voted to back the proposed extension of the rail trail from Welshpool to Alberton near Yarram, which would make the trail 93km long from Leongatha to Alberton.
An 8.2km section of the trail is in South Gippsland Shire – from Welshpool to the shire boundary east of Hedley – and the project – valued at $3.622 million – will be jointly overseen by Wellington and South Gippsland councils.
Cr Alyson Skinner said, “We know this will bring great economic benefits and tourism to our shire.”
The move comes after South Gippsland council pledged to work with other councils to investigate the extension of the trail to Clyde near Cranbourne.
Should that occur, the trail from Alberton to Clyde would be 163km long.
The Welshpool to Alberton section will span 21km and link with the existing 5.6km Tarra Trail from Alberton to Yarram.
Wellington council has been invited to formally submit an application for $1 million to the Latrobe Valley Community Facility Fund established by the State Government to back projects that improve the liveability of the Latrobe Valley.
South Gippsland council will allocate $631,000 to the project and Wellington will allocate $1.491 million. A further $500,000 will be sought from Regional Development Victoria (RDV) but should that application fail, the councils could be left with a shortfall.
Mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt said the link would build on the trail’s established reputation as a tourism attraction.
“It will certainly be attractive and it will bring people in from the other end. It’s good rideable and walkable country, and it’s pretty scenic,” she said.
“It should bring tourism in and when the Long Jetty and the Agnes Falls cantilever projects come to fruition, they should all bring people in. There are a lot of food businesses down there and they should get the flow on effects.”
Cr Brunt did believe a long term maintenance solution for the trail was needed to reduce the burden on the trail committee of management, particularly if the trail is extended to Clyde.
RDV queried how the Welshpool to Alberton trail would be maintained. South Gippsland council hopes maintenance would be funded by the trail committee, as is the arrangement for the existing trail, to which council provides $60,000 a year.
Council will allocate up to $16,400 towards the maintenance of the 8.2km of the Welshpool to Alberton section.
The Welshpool to Alberton extension is a part of council’s Great Southern Rail Trail Extension Project, which also entails extending the trail from Leongatha to Korumburra, and then from Korumburra to west of Nyora, and eventually to Clyde near Cranbourne.
A council report hailed this proposal as a “nationally iconic 188km rail trail from Clyde in the City of Casey to Yarram in the Wellington Shire”.
The opening of the Koonwarra to Minns Road section of the trail has been a “huge success”, council’s manager economic development and tourism Renae Littlejohn said.
“It has linked the whole trail and ensured that cyclists can explore the region in a safe environment. It is a very appealing section to the public,” she said.
“This section has been crucial in linking Leongatha and Koonwarra to the rest of the trail so that all users have the option of travelling the full 72 kilometres if they choose. Users of the trail can enjoy various food and drink stops to break up their ride.
“Parkrun’s popularity with the community is a good example of local volunteers activating an area that provides positive usage for all ages and abilities.”

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=25726

Posted by on Aug 28 2018. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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