The Mirror News

Rail trail extensions still on list

EXTENSIONS to the Great Southern Rail Trail are still on the list for both South Gippsland Shire and Wellington Shire despite missing out on the latest rounds of federal and state funding for one joint project.

Wellington Shire prepared and lodged joint applications on behalf of itself and South Gippsland Shire to Regional Development Victoria and to the Latrobe Valley Authority.

The municipalities are seeking $1.5 million to cover the shortfall in their $4.8 million plan to fill in the missing 20-or-so-kilometre section of the Rail Trail between Welshpool and Alberton.

The proposed new section would take the Rail Trail right to the end of the former Great Southern Railway’s eastern terminus at Yarram and would also connect to the seven-kilometre Tarra Trail from Alberton to Yarram.

South Gippsland Shire Council acting chief executive officer Bryan Sword said $1.9 million had been allocated in the shire’s 2019/2020 budget towards the Welshpool to Alberton extension.

The budget is yet to be formally adopted, however, and the document is listed on the agenda for consideration at the open council meeting to be held today Wednesday July 24, 2019.

Wellington Shire Council has already approved a $1.4 million contribution for the Welshpool to Alberton link in its 2019/2020 budget, and also has funding in place to finish the Alberton to Port Albert trail by December 2019.

South Gippsland and Wellington shires will maintain their joint quest for external funding for the Welshpool to Alberton section.

Wellington communications officer Wendy Reeves said the shire was “still committed to the project and will be looking at all possible sources of funding to raise the $1.5 million that’s needed.”

South Gippsland Shire Council has also identified extending the Great Southern Rail Trail westwards from Leongatha to Korumburra and beyond as “a potential priority project”.

The cost to build the Leongatha to Korumburra section of the Rail Trail has been estimated at $3 million.The council has earmarked $1 million towards the project, and will be looking for $2 million in federal and state grants.

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