$600,000 to finish Gippsland Plains Rail Trail

WELLINGTON Shire mayor Scott Rossetti has welcomed the announcement of money to complete the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail, saying it had the capacity to bring more tourists to Wellington Shire.

Delivering $200,000 of its election promise earlier this year, the state government announced the additional $600,000 to complete the 7.1km section of trail between Glengarry and Traralgon on Friday.

The section will be the final leg of the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail, which will stretch from Traralgon to Stratford, passing through communities including Toongabbie, Cowwarr, Tinamba, Heyfield and Maffra.

“The completion of the rail trail can be likened to chain which has busted one of its links; when a section is not complete it is not as attractive,” Wellington Shire mayor Scott Rossetti said.

“When it is joined together, people can use the whole rail trail which is more attractive to tourists.

“People can get off the train at Traralgon, take the trail to Stratford and get back on again.”

Cr Rossetti said it was estimated visitors to the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail would contribute more than $3 million to the local economy each year.

“It will bring tourists through communities such as Cowwarr, Heyfield, Tinamba and Maffra and through their accommodation, (tourist) assets and shops,” he said.

“We will really see people not just on our doorstop, but in our own backyard.”

Gippsland Plains Rail Trail chair Helen Hoppner said the trail had been 20 years in the making, and vowed the final section would be just as impressive as the recently completed section between Cowwarr and McKinnon’s Rd, Tinamba.

“It wasn’t until the announcement three years ago that it (the rail trail) really took off,” she said.

“Hopefully by autumn we will have one of the best trails in the state; we will be sure of that.

“The trail will bring significant economic, health and well being benefits to the entire community.”

The 7.1km shared gravel pathway between Glengarry and Traralgon will be 2.5m wide, with funding to also be used to upgrade culverts, repair an embankment, reinstate four bridges and eradicate and prevent the recurrence of termites in the timber bridges.

The project is also expected to create 15 jobs during construction, and an additional 12 ongoing indirect jobs.