Archive:  Trails

Last Updated  18/3/19

 

 

NEW  Action Required   Council's "Shared Trails" Feasibility Studies.  More Economic Development Priorities Pretending To Be Good For The Local Community And Environment

(18/3/19 - C)   Distinctly underdone and under-informed, the Studies reveal the proposed 60km of intrusive 3 metre wide bitumen trails are overwhelmingly about promoting tourism and cycling, and very little about genuinely caring about the local community's interests, heritage, environment, responsible use of ratepayers' money and risk.  A double dose of reality is needed before going down this path. Submissions close 25 March. 

 

Macedon Ranges Council's website has two "Shared Trails" Feasibility Studies on exhibition for community comment.  Submissions close 25th March. https://www.mrsc.vic.gov.au/About-Council/News/Have-Your-Say/Draft-Macedon-Ranges-Shared-Trails-Feasibility-Studies    

 

MRRA Says:

 

It would have been too easy.  All most residents want is somewhere to relax and passively recreate.  But no, someone's gone off with the pixies again and something akin to a mini-freeway is what's on offer. 

 

Council's website says these $20 million proposals relate to "A key action of the Council Plan 2017-2027 was for Council to invest in planning, renewing and building new footpaths and cycling paths to improve access and community connections."   These trails aren't about that, and have arrived at the 'feasibility' stage without robust or broad community engagement and consultation.  

 

The trails are instead a response to several State government policies/strategies - and Council's infamous draft Visitor Economy Strategy.  The scale, focus and ambition of these proposals confirm they aren't placing a premium on the local community's wellbeing or residents' quiet enjoyment of their homes, their towns or the Shire's stunning natural surroundings.  The Studies go straight to the economic advantages of increased cycling and tourist visitations by selling these trails as a tourist and event (if not race) destination for domestic and international visitors.  The sales pitch calls the trails 'nature-based tourism' while concurrently promoting flow-on effects for accommodation, food and other services. 

 

The 3 metre wide, two-way bitumen trails are expected to be 'shared' by pedestrians, runners and running groups, school children, tourism cyclists, recreational cyclists, commuting cyclists, road cyclists, E-bikes, and personal mobility devices.  In the disused rail line from Carlsruhe, horse riding on a separate (additional) trail is proposed, with the old Carlsruhe Railway Station clocked for a car park, including one which caters for horse floats.  Isn't the former Carlsruhe Station a privately owned residence these days? 

 

The Feasibility Studies include preferred options, as well as alternative/additional options.  Generic costings for preferred options are provided, with an expectation that the $20 million construction costs will be covered by State or Federal funding.  There's also an expectation that ratepayers and community will pick up over $350,000 costs each year for maintenance.  

 

'Intrusive', 'damaging', 'excessive', 'expensive' and 'liability' are words that come to mind to describe these proposals.  Their major effects include impacts on Woodend's Avenue of Honour, heritage features, the road network, active and disused railway lines, quiet residential streets, creeks, vegetation and landowners.  Although the trails are located in environmentally sensitive, populated and dangerous areas, substantial information gaps exist and include fire, risks, vegetation impacts, extent of construction and earthworks, flooding, and contamination (along all railway lines, not just the disused one).  Roads to Hanging Rock (Boundary, Anderson, Colwells and South Rock Roads and Straws Lane) are to be taken over by the trail, which, together with major road crossings including the trails crossing Tylden and Kilmore Roads, will result in introduction of as-yet-unexplained 'traffic calming' and 'safety systems'.  Those directly-affected landowners who have been consulted have not generally been enthusiastic about having trails through their properties, so the Studies include a $1.75 million costing to address 'Alignment and Land Agreement' issues, and refer to possible compulsory acquisition.   And if anyone can shed light on why the 70 signs for the 'northern' trails are costed at $300 each (10 are $500), and the 18 signs for the 'southern' trail are costed at $15,000 each, please do!

 

Below is a letter the Association sent to editors of local papers this week.  MRRA strongly recommends residents read the Studies relevant to their areas, and forward comments to Council and a copy to all Councillors.

 

"Checked Council’s “Shared Trails” proposals yet?  You should.  What a $20 million ‘tear-up’ of where we live, with ratepayers apparently up for over $350,000 yearly for maintenance.  

 

Promoted as improving community well-being, in reality these proposals promote serious cycling and tourism interests, and are intended to increase visitors (i.e. “nature-based tourism”).  The Daylesford to Hanging Rock trail alone expects up to 70,000 users a year, with only 10% locals.

 

Roughly 60kms of new, 3 metre wide, two-way bitumen track is proposed, much of it within the active rail reserves next to the active trains. 

 

The new bitumen runs along Woodend’s Avenue of Honour (west side), and possibly also Macedon’s,  through town centres and residential  streets e.g. Bruce St Macedon, North and Daly Streets Woodend, and under the Calder Freeway at Woodend. 

 

It takes over some existing walking tracks, shares public roadways from the freeway to Hanging Rock, traverses Macedon Regional Park and Walter Smith Reserve and turns unmade “quiet residential streets” (Donovan/Parkers/Montgomery roads, Woodend,  Markham Road, Riddell) into sealed shared trails.  New Gisborne’s Chessy Park Estate is also affected by a separate trail.

 

This vision needs land access agreements and possible compulsory acquisition ($1.75 million is costed), traffic calming and intersection safety systems, 3 car parks, a toilet, 88 signs, 12 bridges (plus the uncosted Edgecombe St Kyneton bridge) and thousands of metres of fencing.  Board walks and new bridges are proposed at heritage bridges/fords, with vegetation removal throughout apparently to be off-set with new plantings in the disused rail reserve between Carlsruhe and Daylesford (where both bitumen and horse-riding trails are proposed).

 

Trying to please everyone may end in not pleasing anyone.  Are you affected?  See Council’s website.  Comments close 25 March."