Representatives from the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Association are urging Tweed Shire Council to award the construction tender for the Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek section of the corridor at this week’s Council meeting, saying a predominately on-formation trail was the most viable option.
Councillors will vote this Thursday on a recommendation by the infrastructure delivery team to award the construction tender for the 24 kilometre stretch of cycle and walking path, the first in what is ultimately proposed to be a 130-kilometre rail trail from Murwillumbah to Casino.
Northern Rivers Rail Trail Association vice president Cameron Arnold said Tweed Shire had already secured State and Federal Government funding for the project, which would provide a significant economic boost to the area and a safe and active corridor for residents to enjoy.
‘Tweed Shire already has full funding for the rail trail, so all we need is for Councillors to vote to award the construction tender this week and we are off and running.
‘The State and Federal Governments awarded these grants to Tweed Shire to plan and execute the rail trail on-formation. If Council decides at the eleventh hour not to proceed, they may have to repay the money, of which around $1 million has already been spent.
‘Council has done its due diligence investigating both an on- and off-formation trail by asking the construction companies to tender for the option they felt was most appropriate. All four came back with only 20 per cent off-formation, which speaks volumes.
‘We urge Council not to delay further and vote to proceed with the predominately on-formation proposal that has been presented as the most viable option.’
Mr Arnold said proceeding with an on-formation rail trail would not preclude trains coming back in future and, would in fact, preserve the corridor for future generations.
‘The railway line is already being dismantled in some sections, with eight bridges removed and four parcels of land sold-off. If we do not protect the corridor now by building the rail trail, we may lose it altogether.
He said that in the current climate, the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Association do not believe a train or light rail would be an economically viable option for the State Government. The rail trail is, so we encourage the community to get behind it. ‘We formed our Association with the purpose of seeing this corridor preserved as a public asset the entire community can access in a safe and healthy way for generations to come.
‘An active cycle and walking trail weaving between the towns in our region is just that. It will become a new way for locals to get to school, work, sport or shopping, a place to ‘The rail trail is an opportunity to turn this land into something truly special for our beautiful part of the world’.