Sunday, 23 November 2014

Tracks and trails - session summary


Session notes

Mayor-elect Christine Henderson - Chair of Council’s Walking and Cycling Strategy Advisory Committee.
Leila Macadam - Waterways & Floodplain Officer, North Central Catchment Management Authority - Bendigo.

A lively, friendly discussion with plenty of suggestions and ideas to progress the #4 Priority identified in Newstead Community Plan - 
Establishing a connected network of walking and bike paths and trails between Newstead and surrounding towns, using existing easements and bushland areas.
Newstead People Doing It For Themselves

Working Group for Newstead  formed and tasked with the investigation of and proposals for Trails and Walking Paths in Newstead. To Identify landowners, community representative and council staff who can work together on developing Newstead  links to the Goldfields Track. 
Members: Peter Skilbeck, Jenny Dyer, Maritsa Gronda, Dave Stratton.
Readily apparent that those in attendance were passionate about this topic, already using local tracks and routes that are mostly unmapped, little known and poorly signposted. Local knowledge of forest tracks and roads currently in use, linking Newstead to Maldon to be identified as potential routes, mapped and signposted,  leaflets, GPS Apps. Existing trails require less maintenance. Once signposted become a Council responsibility. Alternative Camino-style distinctive  logo route markers suggested. Trails and Walking Tracks offer recreational needs and provide economic returns.

Newstead walking tracks and cycle trails to be identified and promoted as an attractive side loop for the 100,000 plus visitors per annum expected to use the GoldFields Track. Goldfields Track links Mt Buninyong and Ballarat to Bendigo via Mount Alexander’s recently approved mountain bike track near The Oaks. Huge tourism potential for traders, accommodation providers.
Active Newstead Circular Loop walking trail to be identified within Newstead - open up and improve pedestrian access to the Loddon River Bank area. Healthy exercise of walking to be promoted with destination, distance indicators for locals and visitors. Similar to the loop walking tracks in Bendigo, Bridgewater and around Lake Wendouree Ballarat.
Jason Taylor, Director for Sustainable Development and Ben Grounds unable to attend but offered to discuss outcomes of our discussions. Proposal to invite them for a site visit once potential routes for tracks, paths, trails identified.

Newstead Castlemaine Link via Guildford as outlined in Newstead Community Plan - Pulled -  too expensive, a logistical nightmare - repairs to  infrastructure required for pedestrian, cyclists safety. Only when the track is ‘dead’ taken up/out would such a rail trail be considered by Vicrail as in Bright, Warburton. Still campaigners for Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo Rail Link.

Clr Henderson provided background to Walking and Cycling Strategy & explained terms such as walking trails and wayfinding.
Council’s  Walking and Cycling Reporting Framework 2014 Document 
An action plan for organising Council’s response to its recently adopted “Walking & Cycling Strategy”  The adoption of this Strategy and Reporting Framework  document signals Council’s commitment to work with communities such as Newstead to develop walking paths and trails.

!!! Map for Newstead appears to be missing from hardcopy of Walking and Cycling Strategy Document.  & Mt Alexander Shire’s PDF

This document ranks Council Priorities for Footpath, Cycling, and Trail  Projects
Priorities for Footpath Projects:
Council Budget for footpaths $220, 000 2014/15
 Newstead has :
 #2 Lyons St (Pyrenees Highway) Codrington St to Peel St - school frontage.
 #3 Codrington/Canrobert/Panmure Streets, Lyons to Lyons.
 Location, design & width, of these footpaths linking the school with new Pavilion in Panmure Street to be discussed with Clr. Michael Redden. Footpaths need to suited to wheelchairs, prams, mobility walkers to ensure access for all residents.
Other priorities for Newstead ranked #19 and unlikely to be actioned for some years.

Bike Lane Projects:
# 2 Castlemaine to Newstead - Install signage on cycling route.
#3 Maldon to Newstead  - Install signage on cycling route
#12 Newstead - Lyons St (Pyrenees Hwy), Codrington to Layard (res)
#15 Newstead to Guildford - Install signage on cycling route

Trail Projects:
#4 Newstead - Connect both sides of town (two options being  explored)

Infrastructure Planning & Maintenance 
Work with Community Groups:
Work with local cyclists and/or cycling groups to conduct an audit of the ‘Known Cycling Routes’ to assess quality. 

NCCMA - Leila Macadam Waterways and Floodplain Officer
Spoke favourably of our community’s desire to enhance access to the Loddon River bank area.
The Loddon flows in a flood corridor and any pathway design must comply with Melbourne Water Guidelines. Limit to the number of river crossings which pose a flood risk. 
Extract from email :
Camille White, our Floodplain Manager, is pretty straightforward with regards to planning for paths etc. see general guiding principles below:

1.       Pretty happy for the paths to go wherever within the river corridor/levee corridor as long as they remain on the banks and don’t encroach into the river bed.
2.       Any paths crossing the levee should follow a slow incline up the levee, in a more parallel direction to the top of the levee bank rather than leading perpendicularly up the levee on a steep angle. The levee is Council’s asset to any interaction of paths and levees should be discussed with them to ensure it maintains its structural integrity.
3.       Any crossings over the river must be bridges. These bridges must sit above the 1 in 10 year ARI flood level. The design is likely to be fairly similar for most locations along the river in the corridor so shouldn’t impact your path design too much, except that cost will likely limit the number of crossings that you choose to go with.
4.       The path will necessarily lie within the flood extent. Paths should be designed such that when a flood event is occurring, where the path first encounters the flood extent a pedestrian/cyclist should be able to enter water up to 400 mm deep on a path that is no steeper than 1 in 8 m/m. Designing for this ensures that users get the ‘warning’ of the deep water and realise not to continue with the path into other more dangerously flooded territory.

So the advice from the CMA is that you should feel confident to develop up path/trail/infrastructure concepts with the group, just ensure that they are not too steep near the river and that you minimise the number of crossings. Then when you get to the more ‘detailed design’ phase you should send through the plans and we can provide specific guidance on the modifying the design of some areas to meet item (4) above about flooding and set bridge deck levels.

Newstead Cairn Curran Gateway  
Access to the Loddon River - a lively discussion on issues such as:  - 3 metre  easement, access rights, regulations, public liability insurance, role of regulators - Goulbourn Murray Water, Parks Victoria. Council staff input needed to establish list of  private ownership leaseholders.

Goldfields Track
Peter Skilbeck provided insights into the construction and history of the Goldfields Track and the enormous tourism potential and economic benefits it delivers to our area. Comprised of different sections over varying terrain not all suited to wheelchair access.
Icon Track for Mountain Bike Riding to be announced next week.
 60-1000 visitors expected to use the new 34 km mountain bike tracks on Mount Alexander.
Website for Ride/Walk Goldfields track to be developed .
Presents  a  “ fantastic opportunity to have links to Newstead” for economic benefits and tourism potential, accommodation providers.
Enthusiasm delivers results - 

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