South Gippsland Shire Council has already charged enough rates in the Capital Works Budget to construct the Great Southern Rail Trail Underpass.

Following recent discussion on the issue of the gap in the Great Southern Rail Trail at Roughead St Leongatha, I have checked the contracts let for the works and the amount council allocated in the Annual Budget for the works. Ratepayers and users of the rail trail – we have already been levied enough to pay for the underpass! Why is council procrastinating on giving us the safest outcome?

Let’s look at the data. The current works – Leongatha to Nyora (36km), has been contracted out for the sum of around $3.6 million. That works out at about $1 million per 10km of rail trail construction.

We note that some works, like the link from the Leongatha Station to Bair St, have still to be undertaken along with a new pedestrian crossing of the South Gippsland Highway. (These works were budgeted at $895,000). Let’s allow $1 million for these works in Leongatha still to be done.

Planned extension works – Welshpool to Hedley (Wellington Shire covers the Hedley to Alberton connection to complete the line). This section is just 5.5km long with only one bridge crossing. Using a consistent costing rate, this should cost $550,000 for this new section. So, if we allow $700,000, that should be adequate to cover the works.

Totalling the $3.6 million, $1 million and $700,000, we get an expenditure of $5.3 million required for current and proposed works on the Great Southern Rail Trail – not including an underpass at Roughead St.

Let’s look at what the 2020 Budget and the 2021 Budget have done with levying ratepayers for the work.
• 2020 Budget – $2.895 million (Leongatha to Korumburra).
• 2021 Budget – $2.375 million (Korumburra to Nyora).
• 2021 Budget – $1.9 million (Welshpool to Hedley).
• Total – $7.17 million.

That leaves a balance of $1.87 million from what council has levied ratepayers, which should go close to paying for the underpass at Roughead St.

Council – I call upon you to provide the safest outcomes for users of the Great Southern Rail Trail – that is an underpass at Roughead St. Even the updated Landscape Plan for the Leongatha station precinct presented to council in March 2021 showed the trail having an underpass at Roughead St. The independent risk analysis of the proposals show the underpass is the safest. Council, please engage with the community on this project.

Lindsay Love, Leongatha.