Tweed Shire Council is moving ahead with its contentious rail trail project, with the announcement that it has advertised for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) from prospective tenderers to design and construct the first stage.
Tenderers have until December 12 to put up their hands.
The council will then shortlist three to four and ‘work with them to fully explore the objectives and opportunities presented by the joint federal and state government-funded project but also Council’s requirement to seek both on-track and off-track proposals,’ it announced in a verbose media release.
‘This two-stage tendering process will allow us to workshop the project information with the qualifying tenderers and discuss such matters as the Council resolution and its preference for an off-formation design,’ rail trail project director Iain Lonsdale said.
‘This will enable us to communicate clearly with those tenderers the full range of issues and opportunities available prior to them undertaking their own assessments. He added the EOIs would ‘capture opportunities around the design and construction of trail surfaces, new and rehabilitated bridges and culverts, treatments of existing tunnels, connecting pathways and interpretations of railway heritage elements’.
Council is expected to award the design and constructing contract early next year, with a view to construction of the Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek stage of the rail trail starting about June 2019.
Meanwhile, Council has begun talking with the rail trail villages of Stokers Siding, Burringbar, Mooball and Crabbes Creek about the rail trail and how it will affect them.
Rail Trail Community Conversations began in Uki last week and will continue in Burringbar and Stokers Siding this week. The Mooball / Crabbes Creek conversation will be held on Monday 19 November 2018. To check the dates and venues, visit https://yoursaytweed.com.au/openspace
‘The rail trail is a key element of Council’s Open Space Strategy as it will provide a recreational cycling and walking path between the Tweed villages and Murwillumbah, multiplying the open space available in the Tweed for community use,’ he said.
‘Council is currently seeking community input on the Open Space Strategy, in particular how it would prioritise individual open space upgrades over the next decade, and the rail trail is part of that conversation,’ Mr Lonsdale said.
I’m told that tweed councils request for rail trail cobbstruction tenders document has no mention of including the beside the tracks option as voted for by council to keep the option of saving our train line. How can this be?
Be aware that Byron Council appears to be heading down the same path. The latest public meeting on cycle ways and a Pedestrian and Mobility Plan was prefaced with a Rail Trail development push poll questionnaire asking ‘would you use a Byron rail trail’ but did not ask if you would use a train.
The Byron survey was about walking and cycling in the shire. Railways were not intended to be in the scope. In fact, Byron Council has expressed a strong desire to preserve the rails with any installation of a rail trail.
In Tweed the “trail beside rail” option is only included for the sake of a minority of the councillors to keep them onside. Everyone knows that the only practical design puts the trail right where the rails are because it allows the original formation and drainage systems to be used without modification. Any other design would require extensive formation work not afforded in the budget, elevate ongoing maintenance costs and compromise the quality of trail.
Those in touch with reality also know there is no possibility that rail services will ever be resurrected on a ancient single track corridor following a nineteen century alignment. There are no prospects for funding such a white elephant while the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail has already been fully funded.
It’s time to move on and plan the real future of this region.
I completed the Pedestrian and Mobility Plan and it I do not recall any mention of public transport of any sort. It did not ask if you would use a train – nor did it ask if you would prefer more frequent bus services for less cost than a train would cost. Nor did it ask how someone who used a train would get to the hospital. Or how often you fly to Sydney or drive to work. It was not a transport survey. It was focused on walking and other forms of personal mobility. Nor was it a “push poll. The question was not in any way loaded . If you do not want to use a rail trail you simply answer “no” and don’t use it.
And why would the Byron residents not be aware that it is likely to head down the same path? The concept plan for the Byron Line is for a multi use corridor. I have raised with Mayor Richardson why the terms of reference for the Feasibility Study did not include consideration of how the train would work with other transport or the rail trail. He replied on his Facebook page ” Hi Peter – thanks for the input, we are totally committed to having the information you describe- for me, this is crucial. ” We will see in the Feasibility report if Mayor Richardson is indeed committed to exploring a rail trail , but it would appear from the Byron Line concept, from what Mayor Richardson has written, and the likely availability of State or Commonwealth funding for it, that the Byron Shire should not be surprised if its Council considers it . And why indeed would a Green council not support an extension of what will be the largest sustainable recreation, tourist and transport infrastructure in our region.
I am really looking forward to this rail trail. having the pathway on the foundations instead of the rails is the international formula for success. it means people of all fitness levels can travels surprisingly long distances from village to village with relative ease. It’ll get me bringing fsmily and friends from afar.