Rail trail works will help boost visitor numbers

THE Gippsland Plains Rail Trail is set to receive a $1 million boost, with a 25-metre bridge taking shape in a factory in Wurruk.

The new bridge, being built by T & S Welding, will eventually span the Eaglehawk Creek crossing, becoming a vital link in the increasingly popular rail trail.

Gippsland MHR Darren Chester lobbied for the $267,000 from the federal government to support the rail trail upgrade, and said local jobs would be supported during the construction stage and for years to come.

“My active Gippsland plan is all about providing more opportunities for locals and visitors to enjoy our magnificent region,” Mr Chester said.

“It’s great to see local tradies building the bridge, painting it, and then transporting it to be lifted into place in the coming weeks.

“As we work to boost jobs in the visitor economy, it’s very pleasing to visit a local business and see crews working on a public infrastructure project like this one.

“We need further investment by all levels of government in quality infrastructure on public land like walking and bike trails, camping grounds, rest areas and other facilities to complement our natural features and grow our visitor economy.”

The Gippsland Plains Rail Trail stretches 67 kilometres between Traralgon and Stratford.

It is the only rail trail in Victoria where users can catch a train to and from either end.

The new bridge across Eaglehawk Creek, located between Glengarry and Toongabbie, is part of a $1 million package of works planned for the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail.

The works also include a new bridge over the Thomson River, and sealing the trail from the Princes Highway to Glengarry.

Gippsland Plains Rail Trail Committee of Management chairman Helen Hoppner said these works would make the trail more user-friendly and accessible.

“The rail trail is enjoyed by the community and is a great way to exercise and get outside,” Mrs Hoppner said.

“These works will improve the walking experience and create a safer environment for those travelling along the trail.”

Mr Chester said traders along the trail route, including those in Glengarry, Toongabbie, Cowwarr, Heyfield, Tinamba and Maffra, were ideally-placed to receive a welcome boost from rail trail tourism.

“As new sections of the trail have opened, these towns and businesses have reported steady growth in trade as the numbers of cyclists and walkers have risen,” he said.

“I hope this further investment in the trail will see that growth continue to climb when we are able to move about freely again.

“This is also an investment in the health of local people by encouraging them to get outside and explore our region and towns, whether by foot or bike.”