'Major breakthrough' announced for rail trail
THE BOYNE Burnett Inland Rail Trail committee is celebrating a significant milestone in its campaign to transform the region's disused rail corridor.
The group was pleased to announced the approval of a $99,000 feasibility study to be fully funded through the government's Queensland Cycling Action Plan.
Grants were awarded to local councils under the State Government's $14 million rail trail program, and the North Burnett and Gladstone Regional councils' joint funding application was this week given the green light.
The councils have contracted planning consultants Mike Halliburton Associates to conduct the study, which is expected to start soon.
BBIRT committee chair Mark McLachlan was thrilled the neighbouring councils had partnered to support the rail trail proposal.
"For local governments to get that sort of funding shows the State Government is serious about developing rail trails,” Mr McLachlan said.
"It's a lot of money. It will allow us to investigate every aspect of the project's feasibility to find out how we will proceed.
"We had considerable input into the scope of the study and the terms of reference. The requirements we thought were necessary were certainly included.
"We're not trying to preserve the railway for train use, but are having success in developing it for the benefit of all the communities along the corridor.
"We see it as a great opportunity for some economic development in all of those little towns.”
Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said Gladstone, North Burnett and Bundaberg Regional Councils had been beneficiaries of the first round of funding after submitting successful expressions of interest.
"Rail trails support active, healthy lifestyles, allow for the innovative use of disused state-owned infrastructure, and contribute to environmental preservation and management,” Mr Butcher said.
"That's why we have allocated $14 million over the next four years to help local councils build walking, bike riding and horse-riding trails on disused rail corridors.
"Gladstone Regional Council and North Burnett Regional Council have also partnered to undertake a feasibility study on the Gayndah to Taragoola rail corridor and we have awarded them $99,000.
"Bundaberg Regional Council has been awarded $92,000 to undertake a feasibility study on the Bundaberg to Gin Gin rail corridor.
"These councils submitted comprehensive proposals and we are pleased to partner with them to deliver these rail trails in their communities.”
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the opening of the final stage of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail last month demonstrated the power of bicycle tourism.
"Support for bicycle tourism opportunities, including rail trails, is a feature of our Queensland Cycling Strategy 2017-27,” he said.
"The Palaszczuk government has been a strong supporter of the development of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail over many years.
"It has attracted significant numbers of visitors, events and, importantly, tourism dollars for communities along the route.”