Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has secured $2 million for the first stage of a much-needed upgrade of the East Gippsland Rail Trail.
Mr Chester said he had been working closely with the volunteer committee of management for more than two years to seek government funding and he was ecstatic with the result.
“Naturally, we were disappointed that the rail-trail was unsuccessful in the first round of bushfire recovery funding but we put a strong case to the Federal Infrastructure Minister and secured this $2 million,” Mr Chester said.
“I want to thank the volunteer committee members for all of their hard work over many years and I’m looking forward to helping them deliver some significant works to improve safety and the amenity of the trail.
“Rail-trails are growing in popularity around the world and the East Gippsland experience of almost 100 kilometres between Bairnsdale and Orbost can drive future growth in the visitor economy.
“The iconic trestle bridges and mix of bush and rural landscapes are fantastic features and this funding will make a real difference.”
Mr Chester said the committee of management would decide spending priorities in consultation with the community.
“Improving safety and the trail experience of cyclists and walkers will be the focus of this first stage of works and I will also be supporting future funding bids under the bushfire recovery program,” Mr Chester said.
“Combined with projects like the historic Snowy River trestle bridge upgrade, these works will create jobs during construction and in the longer term.
“We need to keep improving our infrastructure on public land to support the visitor economy and give locals more opportunities to enjoy healthy, active lifestyles in our region.”