Rail trail to be completed by 2020

TWEED Shire Council is aiming to have its $13 million scenic rail trail from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek complete by September 2020.

The council held a workshop last Thursday with representatives from 19 construction and consultancy companies and a vegetation management company to highlight some of the design and construction challenges presented by the current poor condition of the rail corridor.

The council has called for Expressions of Interest to design and construct the rail trail, and the construction companies now have until December 12 to respond.

The Expression of Interest process is designed to assess design and construction capability and experience, including workplace health and safety and environmental management credentials.

Around February next year three to four companies will be short-listed to tender for the final contract to design and construct the rail trail.

That contract will be awarded around May next year, with construction to start about June 2019 for completion by September 2020.

"We were very pleased with the diversity and depth of construction expertise that today's workshop attracted, with obvious rail bridge and civil engineering expertise in the room," Rail Trail Project director Iain Lonsdale said.

"The questions from the floor demonstrated a keen desire of prospective tenderers to understand the detailed design and construction challenges of the project, explore on-rail and off-rail formation opportunities and to manage community expectations and adjacent landowner needs throughout."

The Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek rail trail is 24-kilometres long, winding through the villages of Stokers Siding, Burringbar and Crabbes Creek.

It features two tunnels, one 523-metres long with ecological values that need to be managed during design and construction; 27 bridges, of which 18 are significant in size or construction method; and, several heritage items.

The project is fully funded by the federal and state governments and supported by Tweed Shire Council.

Prospective tenderers got a bird's eye view of the condition of the corridor via video detailing the major design and construction challenges, such as: difficult topography; significant grades; flood-prone land; landslips and scours; numerous creek crossings; historic bridges with spans missing; and, overgrown vegetation.

The $13 million trail is being built to provide business and growth opportunities in the Tweed villages and economic and social benefits for the community.

Tweed Shire Council is also running a survey on the project, which can be visited here: www.yoursaytweed.com.au/RailTrail

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