Sod Turning on a New Section
The construction of the 18.5 km section between Foster and Welshpool will begin on Friday February 8.
A Sod Turning Celebration event at 11:45 AM featuring the Hon Peter Ryan MP, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development, and various councillors from the South Gippsland Shire Council, will take place at the beginning of the new section in Foster near the corner of Charity Lane and Lower Franklin Rd.
The project cost of approximately $2 million is being funded by the Victorian government and the South Gippsland Shire Council, and will include a gravel surface and 12 bridges.
This extension will see the South Gippsland Rail Trail run continuously from Meeniyan to Welshpool, a total of nearly 50 km.
Koonwarra Bridges Investigation Proposal
In other news regarding the Great Southern Rail trail, South Gippsland Shire Council has applied for a grant of $40,000 from Regional Development Victoria. At this stage the grant is yet to be approved.
The grant is intended to fund an investigation into the structural integrity of the three wooden bridges in the Black Spur section of the Great Southern Rail Trail, just outside the town of Koonwarra, 8 km south of Leongatha.
Ultimately this will determine whether or not the Great Southern Rail Trail could be connected between Koonwarra and Meeniyan, over the bridges. At present the rail trail from Leongatha ends just outside of Koonwarra and a 2.6km diversion onto the busy and narrow South Gippsland Highway is necessary to reach the rail trail again, about half way to Meeniyan. This is a significant deterrent to many rail trail users.
While it would be wonderful to see the long timber bridges back in use again, Rail Trails Australia would like to see the study also consider new bridge options to go beside the timber bridges that may potentially have cheaper initial costs and probably significantly less long term maintenance issues. A similar approach was taken for the Pumphouse Creek bridge near Meeniyan.
And all things positive, if the bridges near Koonwarra can be connected to the existing trail, the South Gippsland Rail Trail will run from Leongatha to Welshpool with a continuous span of 66 km.
Rail Trails Australia congratulates the South Gippsland Shire Council on the very significant commitment it is making to getting the Great Southern Rail Trail fully completed.
Further updates are expected in the coming months.
For more details about the South Gippsland Rail Trail see our South Gippsland Rail Trail Description.