MACEDON Ranges Shire residents are one step closer to experiencing a shared trail connecting Woodend to Riddells Creek, after councillors agreed to endorse the project at its August meeting.
Councillors read a report to update them on the project, including funding agreement status, and financial, social and environmental implications for their consideration.
The shared trail will connect Woodend to Riddells Creek, passing through Macedon and New Gisborne.
Construction on the project is expected to begin midway through September and continue until at least June 2022.
Council hopes the trails will encourage people to walk, run, and cycle in a safe environment, while also having access to different townships.
Council director of assets and operations Shane Walden said the project was created in response to the community’s desire for safe walking and cycling opportunities.
“The Macedon Ranges Shared Trails Feasibility Studies project formed part of this action and considered a number of opportunities for shared trails throughout the Macedon Ranges and on to Daylesford – council’s border at Tylden,” he said.
“The studies explored and made recommendations for the development of enjoyable and safe shared-use trail links between major towns in the region, designed to encourage cycling, walking and running for people across a range of abilities.”
The plans for the trail were considered the community in 2019, and feedback was used to guide the final direction and outcome of the trail.
“Public exhibition of the draft studies in 2019 provided overwhelming support for the development of shared trails in the Macedon Ranges, with all feedback received being assessed and used to guide the final studies,” Mr Walden said.
“Broad consultation with community group stakeholders, land owners and managers, authorities and the Macedon Ranges community was a key component in developing the studies and council would like to thank all involved for their interest and input.
“Council resolved, at its meeting on August 28, 2019, to endorse both studies and to commence advocacy and funding efforts for the staged implementation and development of the trails.
Mr Walden said council was informed in May it would receive $8.75 million from the State Government’s $2.7 billion Building Works Package to build the $9.75 million Woodend to Riddells Creek part of the trail, with council contributing more than $1 million to cover the remaining costs.
“The trails will contribute strongly to community spirit and wellbeing by being fun, enjoyable and safe and well used by visitors and locals of all ages and popular with children,” he said.
“It will be designed to encourage shared, low volume cycling, walking and running across a range of abilities and suitable for all bike types. It is for recreation, tourism and commuting by users of all ages and ability.
“As an experience the trail will link to events, schools, businesses and local food and produce and can be undertaken as a short ride or as an overnight riding experience staying at accommodation within the Macedon Ranges.
“It is designed as a step on, step off opportunity as opposed to being solely a travel from point A to point B trail.”