A draft report to Bundaberg Regional Council shows a rail trail linking Bundaberg and Gin Gin is potentially feasible.
Sport and recreation portfolio spokesperson Cr Helen Blackburn said the report prepared by rail trail consultants Mike Halliburton and Associates recommended progressing to the next stage.
The report's preliminary findings, based on broad assumptions, suggested the 45.6km of the disused Mount Perry branch corridor could be developed as a rail trail at an estimated cost of around $9.2 million.
“The draft report proposed that the trail be developed in four stages, with the 8.7km section from Bundaberg to Sharon the most costly at an estimated $4.5 million due to the presence of a significant crossing over Splitters Creek,” Cr Blackburn said.
“While this report identified that the proposal is feasible, a more detailed report will include engagement strategies with affected landowners, costings to develop each section of the trail, scope of works involved and presenting a business case for further funding.”
Cr Blackburn said the State Government had provided $92,000 for the feasibility study to be undertaken.
“Fifty per cent of that funding has been expended in producing the draft. The remainder will be invested in the second phase in compiling a more detailed report.”
Mayor Jack Dempsey said it was important for the community to know that Council had not spent one dollar of ratepayer’s money in the study to date.
“The government grant is covering all these initial costs,” he said.
“When the final report is available we will better understand the financial implications going forward and we will assess our options including applying for grants once a Council decision on the project is reached.”
Cr Blackburn said the rail trail concept had attracted positive community support and it appeared the project could create significant recreational opportunities for locals and visitors alike.
“The trails in other parts of the nation attract cyclists, walkers and horse riders and have a positive economic impact on local communities,” she said.
“The draft report identifies there is a huge visitor market we can tap into with a project like the rail trail.
“However, we are cognisant of the fact that the rights of property owners adjacent to the trail need to be respected and extensive consultation will take place to ensure that happens.”
The proposed rail trail would most likely have a starting point near Lions Park, which offers views of the Burnett River, and terminate at the historical Gin Gin Railway Station.
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