TIMELINE REVEALED: Rail trail on track after cash splash
CONSTRUCTION on the Tweed section of the proposed Northern Rivers Rail Trail could begin in early 2021 after a cash injection by the State Government.
The walking and cycling trail between Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek is set to become a reality after NSW Government committed $7.8 million to the $14.3 million project today.
Member for Tweed Geoff Provest said the funding will enable 24km of disused rail corridor to be redeveloped into a shared-use trail.
"When completed, the Tweed stage of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail will connect Murwillumbah with the villages of Stokers Siding, Burringbar, Mooball and Crabbes Creek, providing a great recreation and tourist destination for locals and visitors," he said.
"Rail trails are popular around the world for walking, cycling and horse riding as they encourage healthy lifestyles while also boosting local tourism, which brings dollars into the region, support local jobs and attracts further investment.
"The Tweed stage will help drive growth for the regional NSW visitor economy and increase tourist numbers to the Northern Rivers, which in the coming years will be more important than ever, in the wake of the current COVID-19 crisis."
The new funding from Restart NSW, together with the $6.5 million already provided by the Commonwealth Government, is sufficient to complete detailed design and construct the shared-user path.
Mr Provest said the legislation required to formally close the rail line was not likely to go through parliament until later this year due to the government's more pressing need to manage the current coronavirus pandemic.
Construction is expected to begin shortly after the legislative amendment is approved.
Rail Trail director Iain Lonsdale said the announcement gave certainty both to the council and the adjacent landowners along the rail corridor allowing them to better plan for their future.
"When the legislation is amended, the council will be ready to start work to build this long-awaited recreation and tourism facility," he said.
"While we have been waiting on funding certainty, we have been gaining the licences and approvals needed to build the rail trail and are now in a position to consult further with the adjacent landowners and other stakeholders to finalise detailed design and get this project shovel ready for next year."