I am a concerned ratepayer and regular horse rider using existing sections of the South Gippsland Rail Trail and have been looking forward to riding the extended section from Leongatha to Nyora.

It has, however, recently been brought to my attention that the South Gippsland Shire proposal for the Rail Trail crossing at Roughead St is via a circuitous route across the South Gippsland Highway, between the driveway into the Police Station and the driveway into the car park that runs up to the RSL.

Rail Trail users are then expected to travel on the footpath past Autobarn, the old CFA building and the old Court House, before heading up the hill to the busy Post Office corner. At this point, they need to cross McCartin St at the roundabout, to get to Bair St, then go back down the hill to the Rail Trail.

This proposed route for the Rail Trail crosses four lanes of the busy South Gippsland Highway, negotiates a very busy roundabout and is surfaced in either concrete or bitumen, which will cause slip hazards to horse riders. This is not to mention the danger to shoppers on foot at the Post Office and Sweet Life Café corners from increased bicycle and horse traffic.

I must protest strongly to the South Gippsland Shire that the only safe and logical method for Rail Trail users to cross Roughead St in Leongatha is via the implementation of a tunnel under the roadway. As examples, such shared pedestrian, bicycle and horse rider friendly tunnels are already successfully in place on the South Gippsland Highway at Loch, and also on the Goulburn Valley Highway for the Great Victorian Bike Trail.

It is time for the South Gippsland Shire to start a community engagement process in order to build a tunnel under Roughead St for the Rail Trail crossing, before a rail trail user is injured, or worse still killed crossing multiple busy roads via the proposed shire route.

Heather Walker, Mirboo.