ON TRACK: The section of track alongside Lake Awoonga.
ON TRACK: The section of track alongside Lake Awoonga.

Rail Trail passes major hurdle at council meeting

THE battle to preserve sections of the Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail has taken another step forward with Gladstone Regional Council deciding to act on the project.

It comes following the release of a $99,000 feasibility study conducted by Mike Halliburton Associates and paid for by the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

The council's original recommendation was to note the study but "proceed no further at this stage" but that option was dismissed with an amended motion carried.

Hurdles remain before the project can go ahead but yesterday's decision gives a clearer direction for key stakeholders.

The biggest stumbling block remains how the project will be funded, with the council advocating for state, federal or possibly industry funds.

The study outlined the establishment and ongoing costs for two trails within the GRC boundary - Awoonga Lake Rail Trail and Kalpowar Tunnels Rail Trail - which were described as "quite horrendous".

The feasibility study estimated costs for the projects (for a walker/cyclist trail only) based on a 7.5 per cent contingency would be $10.65 million for the Awoonga Lake Rail Trail and $6.5 million for the Kalpowar Tunnels.

Those costs would rise to $14.5 million and $8.9 million respectively based on a 50 per cent contingency and rise slightly when adding a bridle trail.

 

BEFORE AND AFTER: A timber bridge crossing Degalgil Creek near Nagoorin underwent a makeover recently. Bruce Richardson from Denpaq help clean up old flood debris. The bridge is part of the Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail.
BEFORE AND AFTER: A timber bridge crossing Degalgil Creek near Nagoorin underwent a makeover recently. Bruce Richardson from Denpaq helped clean up old flood debris. The bridge is part of the Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail. Contributed

Councillor Kahn Goodluck said his biggest concern was the council being lumped with an unwanted asset.

"I don't want to see the Queensland Government use this as an opportunity to off- load some of their redundant assets onto ratepayers of our region," Cr Goodluck said.

Cr Chris Trevor and Cr Glenn Churchill agreed doing nothing was not an option.

"I see this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Boyne Valley to transform into an economic tourism hub," Cr Trevor said.

"I can understand where the officer's recommendation is coming from because when you read the figures and the costs involved, including future recurrent funding, they are quite horrendous ... but if we put this feasibility study on the shelf it will stay there."

Ongoing maintenance could cost $116,000 to $127,000 a year.

Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail president Mark McLachlan, who attended yesterday's meeting, was pleased with the outcome.

 

Mark McLachlan President of Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail BBIRT
Mark McLachlan is president of Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail committee. Mike Richards GLA160818BIRT

"It's really good news that councillors around the table are going to support the rail trail," Mr McLachlan said.

"I can understand the reticence in not wanting the State Government to push off responsibility for state government assets on to (the) council.

"I was also pleased they realise that rail trail can be one of the distinct and major tourist attractions."

Mr McLachlan will attend today's North Burnett Regional Council meeting at Mundubbera where the section of the rail trail within its boundary will be discussed.

"It will be interesting to hear what they have to say and hopefully they'll take the same attitude - that they can go ahead and seek funding for the business plan," he said.

Cr Desley O'Grady left the room during the discussion due to her previous involvement with the Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail committee.