Wagga Wagga should not construct the proposed eastern route to Forest Hill of the Active Transport Network unless it fully utilises the existing disused rail corridor from Equex to Forest Hill.
Expert consultants have thoroughly evaluated up to five alternative routes and all recommend that use of the rail corridor is the preferred route to Forest Hill.
Wagga Wagga City Council has previously recommended this rail corridor route in reports and submissions.
The alternative route to be presented to the community this week has been determined solely on the basis of issues concerning land ownership, deals with neighbours and land developers, the perceived lack of immediate availability of the rail corridor, potential cost savings by using existing inappropriate easements and infrastructure and a perceived lack of political support for use of the rail corridor.
It has nothing to do with recognition of community user groups, user preferences for the route or preferred design features of the tail to satisfy potential users.
The recommended route is planned to make use of only a few hundred metres of the rail corridor and most of the route will be a costly and unnecessary duplication of the existing rail corridor.
The council has yet to negotiate and finalise these deals with neighbours to even allow the alternative route to be seriously considered.
It is quite ironic that the NSW government has granted funds for the Active Transport Network then for the same government to inhibit development of what is clearly the most suitable and cost efficient route to Forest Hill.
Wagga Wagga City Council has failed to appreciate the huge level of community demand and support for re-use of the rail corridor to meet the needs of everyone in the community, yet their plans for an alternative route are based on a misunderstanding that cycle commuters will be the major user group.
The proposed route does not even effectively and safely connect with Equex which is one of Wagga Wagga’s main recreational facilities adjacent to the route and likely to be a major destination for trail users.
Cycle commuters between Wagga Wagga City and Forest Hill will not be the major user group of the multi-purpose trail and commuters have been reliably estimated as being potentially only about 10 per cent of total trail users.
The majority of users will undoubtedly be the community of Wagga Wagga for passive recreation.
It is questionable if the alternative corridor will even satisfy the requirements of cycle commuters who require a safe and direct route free of deviations and main road and driveway crossings.
Based purely on cycle commuter use the proposed alternative route could not possibly be economically acceptable based on benefit/cost analysis for the small number of commuters expected to make use of the trail and it would be clearly less cost efficient than re-use of the existing, public owned rail corridor.
The proposed alternative route is a gross waste of public money and runs the very real risk of not satisfying the needs of either cycle commuters or the community.
The alternative route proposed by council has very little merit and should be rejected by the community.