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Rail-Trails Down Under

All across the world, people are discovering the benefits of rail-trails--from the recreational opportunities they provide to the promotion of tourism and more dynamic transportation planning.

Down in the southern hemisphere, Australia has developed an especially active rail-trail development program. Here's a snapshot of what's happening around rail-trails on the (literally) other side of the world!

Central Highlands Rail Trail
Communities across the Macedon Ranges in the southern state of Victoria have joined forces to campaign for a 45-kilometer rail-trail from Daylesford to Woodend. According to the Macedon Ranges Leader, an online petition and map of the route is also attracting hundreds of backers from across Bicycle Victoria's 45,000 members.

Arlen Keen, Bicycle Victoria recreation and rail-trail manager, says the trail would be among the most popular in Australia. "It would pay dividends from expanding the tourism base in an area loved by many regular visitors."

The Central Highlands Rail Trail Working Group has estimated the rail-trail will cost between $4.5 and $5 million to develop.

Gippsland Plains Rail Trail
Also in Victoria, the long-awaited Gippsland Plains Rail Trail could be completed soon.

The Latrobe Valley Express tells us that the Latrobe City Council has applied for AU$2.3 million in funding under the Federal Government's Regional Development Australia program.

Rail Trail Alliance Secretary Tracey Anton says an AU$800,000 state government grant had given the project the boost it needed to get more funding. Anton says the price of steel had driven up the cost of building the necessary bridges, particularly one large bridge to go across the Latrobe River.

The Gippsland Plains Rail Trail is the only rail-trail in the state that has an operating railway station at each end. When completed, cycling enthusiasts would be able to catch a train from Melbourne to their preferred starting point, ride the trail and then return by train to their starting point.

Grand Ridge Rail Trail
More than two years after bushfires devastated the Strzelecki Ranges in southern Victoria, destroying 44 houses, a key local tourist attraction is one big step closer to reopening, with two 66-meter bridges--"mini Sydney Harbour style"--recently installed on the Grand Ridge Rail Trail.

According to The Melbourne Age, if the weather stays fine for a few weeks and drainage, earthmoving and resurfacing work can be completed, project organizers hope to open the popular bush trail by the end of August.

Three 22-meter spans of the final bridge were lifted into place at the Bair Creek crossing by giant cranes last week. Residents welcomed the progress and are keen for the 13-kilometer trail to be reopened, saying it is popular with cyclists, walkers and horse riders and is a crucial link between Mirboo North and Boolarra. They say the trail brings visitors from the Latrobe Valley, South Gippsland and as far afield as Melbourne and interstate.

The AU$1.6-million fire recovery project is funded by the Victorian bushfire reconstruction authority and the state's Department of Sustainability and Environment.

Photos: Gippsland Plains Rail Trail, courtesy of Gippsland Plains Rail Trail Committee, and the Grand Ridge Rail Trail, courtesy of the Grand Ridge Rail Trail Committee. 

Posted Tue, Jun 28 2011 5:45 PM by Karl Wirsing (RTC)


nathan kirk wrote re: Rail-Trails Down Under
on Thu, Jul 7 2011 7:34 PM

Lemme know when it's paved! We'll be there to skate it!


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