Rail trail back on track

FUNDING concerns for Gippsland Plains Rail Trail have been put to rest after Latrobe City Council agreed to compensate part of a shortfall of more than $83,000 last week.

The figure needed to complete works on the trail between Glengarry and Traralgon was promised as part of the Federal Government’s Regional Development Australia Fund on top of an already penned-in $600,000 state contribution, however it was threatened by the change in government after the federal election.

Following a submission to council by GPRT chair Helen Hoppner, a motion was moved at last Monday’s council meeting to provide funding of up to $52,314 as part of its 2014/2015 Capital Works budget with the remaining money already being provided through other grants.

“We were a little short because we found there needed to be a little bit more done, we needed an extra $84,000 so Latrobe City Council came to the party. Their contribution was $52,000 and the other smaller grants came from other (funding pools),” Ms Hoppner said.

Ms Hoppner said while they had received the funding announcement of $600,000 from the State Government, they would not receive the money until the $83,514 had been provided.

“In the next couple of weeks we’ll get the money and works will start in March,” she said.

“Latrobe City Council, as has Wellington, have been very supportive of this project, they realise the value of the tourism the trail will bring in.”

Latrobe City mayor Sharon Gibson said the rail trail was an important asset to Latrobe Valley’s tourism industry.

“The average person can go and use the trail and kids can ride their bikes in relative safety,” Cr Gibson said.

With the potential of a launch of the finished trail earlier next year, Ms Hoppner said to “watch this space”.

“Get ready because (the trail between Glengarry and Traralgon) will be the section that will be the most used, we’re certainly getting lots of comments from the community asking when it will happen,” she said.