BUILD it and they will come.
That is the message from bike riders wanting to recycle the disused Wodonga rail lines into a tourist drawcard.
They say the city has a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to create a world class recreational cycling and walking corridor, potentially stretching from Gateway Island and into the hills beyond Tallangatta.
They say it has the potential to attract tourists from across Australia and beyond, complementing the already established Murray to the Mountains rail trail through the Ovens Valley.
Albury-Wodonga Pedal Power, University of the Third Age, Parklands Albury Wodonga and the High Country Rail Trail will unite today to put their case to VicTrack, the Victorian Government organisation redeveloping the old railway land.
The cycle trail would follow the old railway line from the Gateway Island at the new rail bypass and south past the coal siding’s yard in Osburn Street, linking to the line to Bandiana.
In time it would link to a reconstructed Sandy Creek Bridge across Lake Hume to Tallangatta.
Grander plans would follow the old line into the hills terminating at the long forgotten Cudgewa train station.
The idea has already won the support of Bicycle Victoria.
Its rail trail development manager Arlen Keen said it was a rare opportunity to create something special.
“The railway corridor left redundant by the rail bypass project has opened up the chance to establish a first class network of recreational riding and walking trails in Wodonga, Albury and beyond,” Mr Keen said.
“This is one of best opportunities out there at the moment — the easement and bridges look to be in good condition, are available now and they follow an almost ideal route through the heart of town.
“What we need now is the political will to get this done because it’s really too good an opportunity to miss.”
Mr Keen said the recreational corridor would be a boost for the Border, creating the spine of an off-road network that would run through the heart of Wodonga.
“The extra dimension in this opportunity is that this path would also link directly to the High Country Rail Trail,” he said.
“Time and again we’ve seen the economic benefits that effective, accessible rail trails create by attracting tourists into regions that they would not normally visit.”
High Country Rail Trail spokesman John Trevivian said there would be spin-offs for tourists, commuters and recreational riders.
“The rail corridor is largely too narrow to be resold so this provides the perfect use,” he said.
“It is an opportunity that will never be available again.”
Editorial on page 16 of today's The Border Mail.