'Short-changed': Rail trail committee unhappy with study
THE Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail Committee chair has expressed disappointment in the final report of the feasibility study into the project, believing the two commissioning councils had been "short-changed” by the work.
In a written response to the report, read out at the committee's meeting in Kalpowar Hall on Friday, April 5, Mark McLachlan said he found it "astounding” the company commissioned to produce the report, Mike Halliburton Associates, "could rewrite its terms of reference”.
The original scope of the study was to consider the entire length of the trail, from Taragoola near Lake Awoonga in the north, to Reids Creek near Gayndah in the south, about 270km.
However, the interim report of the feasibility study recommended the development of three shorter trails - Lake Awoonga, Kalpowar Tunnels and Burnett River Bridges - concluding "there is no clear business case for developing a long trail presently”.
Mr McLachlan said the original quote for the study Mike Halliburton Associates was to provide was for "recommendations including a staged approach to the establishment of the rail trail corridor”.
"I do not read this to mean exclude parts of the corridor,” he said.
Mr McLachlan said the three trails considered only represented about a third of the entire length of trail.
"The author of the study was paid $99,000 to review 270km of corridor in detail,” Mr McLachlan said.
"He ended up reporting fully on about 96km.
"Is the 270km trail feasible? We do not know as a result of this study.”
Mr McLachlan said because the interim report of the feasibility study was not made public until after the final report was tabled by both Gladstone and North Burnett regional councils, the committee had no opportunity to offer its perspective.
"Our input could have led to the author being told to complete the report as originally requested,” he said.
Mr McLachlan said the work done on the 96km was "respectable” but painted an incomplete picture.
"A crucial activity for (the committee) is making sure those parts of the corridor not included in the recommendations are looked after for the future and developed as soon as possible,” he said.
"The document should have covered the entire corridor. The information would have been invaluable.
"We would then have a document to refer to when developing other sections of the trail in the future.”
Mr McLachlan will be forwarding his written response to the feasibility study to both Gladstone and North Burnett regional councils.
Mr Halliburton, the study's author, directed the Times' questions to the councils, as his contract had concluded.
North Burnett Regional Council has been contacted for comment.
Mr McLachlan said, moving ahead, it would be important the committee had more input into the business plan.
He said he would request the formation of a management committee, comprising members of Gladstone and North Burnett regional councils, the Department of Transport and Main Roads and the Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail Committee.