Rail Trail funds will finish 160km job
SOMERSET will soon be home to Australia's longest rail trail with the Federal Government confirming Somerset Regional Council was successful with a grant application to complete the historic Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.
Funding of $1.45 million has been confirmed for the council to complete upgrades to the rail trail from Toogoolawah to Moore.
Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann said it was fantastic news for the region.
"We could not be happier with the outcome and what this will do for our region in terms of tourism, growth and economic development," Cr Lehmann said.
"We are very appreciative of the federal government in seeing the immense value that completing the trail will have on our region."
When complete the rail trail will measure 160km and 80% of the rail trail will be within Somerset Regional Council's boundary.
The trail travels through Somerset, South Burnett, Toowoomba Regional and Ipswich City local government areas linking towns and communities and benefitting associated businesses in Wulkuraka, Fernvale, Lowood, Coominya, Esk, Toogoolawah, Harlin, Moore, Linville, Benarkin, Blackbutt and Yarraman.
"Council recognised the economic benefits of a completed rail trail early on and agreed to take over management of the trail if it was completed to an acceptable standard," Cr Lehmann said.
"Council knew early on that it could not accept a sub-standard upgrade of the rail trail, as the state government had suggested, which is why we applied for federal funding to ensure the surface of the trail would be of an acceptable standard that would not end up costing our ratepayers substantially more in the long-term."
Council applied for the federal government funding late last year due to a shortfall in funding offered by the state government.
Council will utilise some of its own funds as well as $1.8 million from the state government to complete the rail trail upgrades.
This funding will allow upgrades to be completed to the Toogoolawah to Moore section of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and will allow the entire length of the rail trail to be open to the community for various users groups to enjoy including cyclists, trekkers, horse riders and more.