December 16, 2020
South Burnett Regional Council plans to seek Federal Government funding to build the Proston-Hivesville Rail Trail and upgrade the Coolabunia Saleyards.
At Council’s meeting on Wednesday, Councillors were told guidelines for Round 5 of the Building Better Regions Fund had been released that morning.
Applications will open on January 12 and close on March 5.
Mayor Brett Otto told the meeting Council had a list of 13 potential projects it would like to seek funding for, ranging from a Mental Health Community Hub to a Tertiary Learning Centre.
However, only two of the projects could be described as “shovel-ready”: the Proston-Hivesville Rail Trail and upgrades to the Coolabunia Saleyards.
Under the terms of the BBRF, Council would need to contribute 50 per cent of each project’s funding with the Federal Government making up the balance.
Councillors voted 5-2 to submit both projects to the next round of Building Better Regions, with Crs Gavin Jones and Scott Henschen opposed.
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Proston-Hivesville Rail Trail
In 2019, Council commissioned Mike Halliburton Associates – the company which carried out the initial feasibility study into the South Burnett Rail Trail – to examine the feasibility of a rail trail between Murgon and Proston.
The cost of the $48,000 study was paid by the Department of Transport and Main Roads, and the final report was delivered in January this year.
Mr Haliburton found a rail trail along the full length of the Murgon-Proston railway spur line was not viable because cotton growers near Byee now used parts of the former rail corridor to grow their crops.
However, the report found a shorter, 14km unsealed trail between Proston and Hivesville was viable and could bring significant benefits to both towns.
The report estimated a Proston-Hivesville Rail Trail would cost $2.2 million to build and $20,000 a year to maintain.
Against this, it would inject about $786,000 a year into the economy of the two towns and produce flow-on benefits to the South Burnett Rail Trail and Lake Boondooma.
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Council recently decided to retain them in public ownership and had previously carried out a number of studies to determine what upgrades were necessary to streamline and modernise the facility.
The saleyards are a major contributor to the region’s economy and an important facility for smaller cattle producers.