September 3, 2019
The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail has been named Public Works Project of the Year at the recent Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia Awards for Excellence.
Somerset Regional Council won the top award, also taking home Best Public Works Project ($2-5 million) for the 161km trail.
Council Director of Operations Andrew Johnson accepted the awards at a ceremony in Hobart, paying tribute to “team Somerset”.
“This is a wonderful win, not only for Council but for the entire Somerset community,” Mr Johnson said.
“To receive an accolade of international excellence like this, it just shows you what an asset the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail has become for south-east Queensland.”
Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann said council was committed to the continued development of the trail.
“It’s our biggest tourism driver and a really significant part of the Somerset economy,” Cr Lehmann said.
“Council is investing in the rail trail not only for our community, but for Queensland and the rest of Australia.
“This award shows we’re on the right track, and council staff are developing a really high quality product.”
Somerset Council also has several rail trail improvements in the pipeline.
It has lodged a funding application for $2.2 million to improve the rail trail surface between Esk and Fernvale.
Last month it also called for community feedback, before October 11, on a $7 million proposal to seal a section of the trail from Fernvale to Pine Mountain.
Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann said the council would like to build a 2.5m-wide, 17.4km-long concrete corridor that would link Clive Street in Fernvale to Bayley Road in Pine Mountain, connecting to Ipswich City Council’s Brassall Bikeway.
The new path would replace the existing gravel surface along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.
“At 161km the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail is Australia’s longest recreational rail trail, attracting tourists from across Australia and internationally,” Mayor Lehmann said.
“The trail is a significant economic driver for Somerset, boosting businesses, accommodation providers and tourism operators and building on the region’s reputation as a destination for adventure-based outdoor experiences.
“As part of our plans to keep Somerset moving, council has started community consultation on a proposal to create a high-quality, safe cycling corridor from Somerset to Ipswich.”
Cr Lehmann said the proposed path would improve connectedness between Somerset and Ipswich, enhancing the region’s profile in South-East Queensland.
“Council’s traffic counter at Fernvale indicates current bicycle use at Fernvale of 17,471 movements per year and equestrian use of 1100 movements per year,” Cr Lehmann said.
“Sealing the surface of the trail from Fernvale to Ipswich is expected to result in a substantial increase in bicycle usage, based on similar experiences in Victoria.
“It would provide a significant recreation and health asset for Somerset and Ipswich, generating economic activity for both communities.”