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Why council wants millions from State Government

Somerset Council says the Queensland Government has underestimated the cost of the Toogoolawah to Wanora section of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail by more than $1 million.
Somerset Council says the Queensland Government has underestimated the cost of the Toogoolawah to Wanora section of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail by more than $1 million. Queensland Government

THE State Government has underestimated the cost of finishing the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail by more than one million dollars, says Somerset Regional Council.

Mayor Graeme Lehmann called on the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads to finish the rail trail, despite the additional cost.

Council officers estimate the cost of completing the Toogoolawah to Moore section of the trail to the minimum standard acceptable to be $2,903,719 plus GST, which would amount to $3,194,091 - almost double the funds allocated.

Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Users Association president Paul Heymans said the alleged mistake was not a matter of council over-estimating the cost, but main roads severely underestimating it.

"When the Palaszczuk Government announced $1.8 million to complete the trail, we were advised that the funding would be sufficient to complete the Toogoolawah to Moore section with some left over for other improvements," Mr Heymans said.

"Due to the large number of creek crossings and other significant civil engineering challenges, the actual cost of completing that section alone will be $2.9 million."

NOT HAPPY: Mayor Graeme Lehmann says other councils are enjoying the benefits of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, while Somerset is suffering. He is asking the State Government to prioritise the costly completion of the trail.
NOT HAPPY: Mayor Graeme Lehmann says other councils are enjoying the benefits of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, while Somerset is suffering. He is asking the State Government to prioritise the costly completion of the trail.

In August, Somerset Council agreed to take over future maintenance of the rail corridor inside Somerset's boundary.

Cr Lehmann reiterated council's offer to accept a 50 year licence for 110km of the trail, on the condition it was completed by DTMR before the hand over.

"For some reason, it is only the Toogoolawah to Moore section that DTMR haven't finished," he said.

"This section of trail must be properly constructed to be safe for users and to be resilient against flooding."

Cr Lehmann said council had been told in no uncertain terms there would be no government flood damage funds to replace creek crossings that got washed away.

"There are dozens of these crossings," he added.

"This will be a great recreation asset for all of south-east Queensland when it is finished and we urge DTMR to finish the trail properly."

Mr Heymans agreed, saying the trail had huge potential to transform the local economies of the regions it passed through.

"We've recently been engaged in discussions with major investors who wish to develop rail trail tourism, including sponsorship of a 22-seater shuttle bus and bike trailer. Their investment is contingent on a completed trail," he said.

"Without sufficient funding this project may be dead in the water.

"We support council in calling for the government to deliver a completed trail as promised."

The QT contacted the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, asking whether they had underestimated the cost of the project.

"The Queensland Government has committed $1.8 million to complete the Moore to Toogoolawah section of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail," a Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said.

"We are working with Somerset Regional Council on a scope of works and costings required to complete this section.

"Subject to a successful agreement, it is expected that these works will begin next year."

Topics:  brisbane valley rail trail graeme lehmann politics qt country somerset council



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