The Federal Government is being urged to provide $5 million to rescue an historic railway trestle bridge in danger of being demolished by neglect in Orbost.
Local MP Darren Chester is supporting a community-led campaign to restore the century-old wooden bridge, which ceased operating as a railway bridge in the 1980s when trains stopped travelling to Orbost.
“I’ve met with members of the community and this project has been identified as a priority to stimulate economic activity,” Mr Chester said. “I’ve now written to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport to request funding to restore the bridge and create a nearby rest area for travellers.
“This region is enduring a series of major setbacks: drought, bushfire, timber industry cuts and now the coronavirus. Each one is taking a heavy toll on the community.
“We need to build a more resilient economy and invest in local infrastructure and projects that support sustainable existing industries.
“Gippsland relies heavily on the tourism industry and we need to give people more reasons to visit this area. Additional regional attractions, such as an enhanced rail trail, would encourage more visitors to Orbost and give the town a welcome boost.
“The trestle bridge could become a feature of the East Gippsland Rail Trail and be the eastern gateway for cyclists and walkers on the 100km trail between Orbost and Bairnsdale.
“Importantly, creating a rest area that links the 700 metre bridge to Forest Park will encourage travellers to stop and take a break in Orbost, which will have road safety benefits for everyone using the Princes Highway.”
The bridge is on the National Trust of Australia’s heritage register for its historical and cultural significance to Victoria. It is the state’s longest timber railway bridge that is still standing.