OTWAYS residents’ campaign to extend a Tiger Rail Trail remains alive.
Colac Otway Shire councillors have voted to consider funding a feasibility study into the Tiger Rail Trail proposal.
The project will go to the council’s 2012-13 budget for consideration.
The rail trail is six kilometres long, from the Forrest township to Yaugher, and campaigners hope to extend the trail to Birregurra.
Rail trail advocate Sue Walpole said she was “really excited” about the council’s decision.
“I think it’s a terrific next step,” Ms Walpole said.
“We have, of course, still got to get the money but
I had read the council report and I’m very happy with that,” she said.
“I think what we probably need to do now is to get a little bit more evidence to the council about the benefits of rail trails to communities.
“There’s been quite a lot of work done on this now and also I’m keen to formalise a bit more some of the business support we’ve gotten.”
Ms Walpole said businesses such as bed-and-breakfasts and cafes could set up at an extended rail trail.
“Rail trail riders stay longer, and because of the exercise, we eat and drink a lot more,” she said.
“It’s important in a rural community that we keep looking for new ways to create employment, to engage our community and to also draw people who don’t live here into the community so they can see what we’re on about.
A feasibility study would cost about $100,000 and would examine the cost of extending the Tiger Rail Trail 42 kilometres to Birregurra.
Mayor Stephen Hart said the council received a petition from 300 people last year requesting the extension of the trail.
“The Forrest Tiger Rail Trail has been very successful and we understand there is strong support from communities for an extension through to Birregurra,” Cr Hart said.
“If council does fund a feasibility study, and if we can leverage matching funding from government, the study will look at the cost of completing a two-metre wide limestone trail, bridges, landscaping and signs.”