Otways trail closure concern

Old Beechy Rail Trail committee chair Chris Smith hopes The Old Beechy Rail Trail will receive more funding from the council to accommodate for the trail’s increased maintenance needs.

A lack of proposed funding and mounting maintenance could result in the partial closure of a regional tourist attraction, according to a Colac Otway Shire councillor.

The Old Beechy Rail Trail chairman Chris Smith said the trail needed an additional $90,000 funding to the $60,000 that the Colac Otway Shire Council proposed in its 2018-19 draft budget.

Cr Smith, who has been on the committee since 2004, said that the trail was at a stage where more maintenance was required and that sections of the trail risked closure if it continued to deteriorate.

“There was a request for $150,000 to get some work done and the draft budget only has $60,000,” he said.

“The reality of that figure is that there is a strong possibility that there will be sections that will need to be closed.

“If it came to the point of closing the trail or even having a sub-standard trail because of a lack of maintenance that twill reflect very poorly,” Cr Smith said.

“There has been a lot of work to promote the rail trail it’s an iconic trial and it’s well-used and well loved.”

Cr Smith said that sections of the trail not on the trail’s original alignment, which was laid in 1902, were in need of more maintenance work and that the trail was subject to issues caused by high rainfall.

He said that the increase in requested funding was due to the age of the trail and “where it was in its maintenance cycle”.

“In the last two years we have fallen behind in the general maintenance and the maintenance is ramping up because of general things that now need doing after 10 or 12 years,” Cr Smith said.

Colac Otway Shire acting chief Robert Dobrzynski said that the trial’s increasing length “over recent years” had resulted in the need for increased maintenance.

Share your experience of the Old Beechy Rail Trail as well as thoughts on funding for the attraction by writing a letter to the editor or emailing news@coalcherald.com

Colac Otway Shire residents have until June 1 to lodge a submission on the Colac Otway Shire’s 2018-19 draft budget.

For the full story see today’s Colac Herald.

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