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Councillors to vote on future of major bike route through Hunter Valley

Alia Parker's picture
A tunnel on the old Richmond Vale Railway line in the Hunter. Cycle Traveller

Bicycle users in the Hunter Valley region of NSW are crossing their fingers and toes that two local councils will be able to work together on a major bike route when the proposal goes to the vote tomorrow night.

Cessnock City Council is set to vote Wednesday night on including Maitland City Council on a working party to build a shared bicycle and pedestrian path through the Hunter, The Maitland Mercury reported Tuesday. The route would follow the old Richmond Vale Railway line for about 28km. 

The historic disused rail corridor dates back to 1856, when it was built to transport coal from Minmi. The proposed path would run for from Kurri Kurri to Hexham near Newcastle, passing through three old rail tunnels and two tressel bridges.

Cessnock council has been spearheading the project but requires the help of Maitland city, which the path would link to, in order to overcome project difficulties that include receiving permission from private landholders to run the path through their property. Maitland council appears prepared to work with Cessnock, provided it gets the go ahead when the councillors vote.

The proposed bike route, inspired by the 15km Fernleigh Track near Newcastle, would be developed as an attraction for both locals and tourists in this popular holiday region.

Peter Blackmore, mayor of Maitland, told the newspaper that he had no doubt a bicycle path through the Hunter would be popular.

“A lot of people are into fitness and bike riding and we’ve seen that at places like Morpeth,” he said in the article.

Mr Blackmore said the council aims to have the project "shovel ready" in order to be eligible to receive funding grants for its construction. He said the council wouldn't be in a position to fund the project without a grant.

Image: Disused rail tunnel on the historic Richmond Vale Railway line.

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