Bypass skirts water
Rail trail works enable Great Alpine Road flood traffic diversion
ALPINE Shire Council will share with government the cost of works that should overcome the need for Myrtleford-Bright traffic to take a 52-kilometre diversion when flooding leads to the closure of Great Alpine Road.
The council is to fund half of a $365,000 bill to upgrade a 976-metre section of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail so it can be used by vehicles of up to 20 tonnes as a singlelane flood emergency bypass.
The Commonwealth and Victorian governments are the meet the other half of the cost from natural disaster resilience grant allocations.
Mayor Ron Janas said the improvements would provide safe, alternative access for drivers and vehicles between Myrtleford and Bright if Great Alpine Road had to be closed because of flooding.
Bright residents last October became largely isolated after rain inundated the high country and upper Ovens Valley.
Flooding cut Great Alpine Road near Eurobin and caused considerable damage in and around Myrtleford, too, affecting residents and businesses and causing crop losses.
Cr Janas said the works on the rail trail should mean that drivers would not need to travel an additional 52km via the Kiewa Valley and Tawonga Gap when Great Alpine Road had to be closed, or be tempted to risk their lives by driving through floodwaters.
“Importantly, the upgrade will be suitable for emergency and service vehicles, allowing them to maintain access between the two towns,” he said.
Past floods near Eurobin have typically resulted in closures of Great Alpine Road for 48 to 72 hours.
The adjacent rail trail has not been known to be affected by flooding as it is elevated.
The council said the upgrade of the rail trail would involve the removal of some trees and vegetation to allow for the widening of the trail.
Improvements would also be made to stormwater culverts, to the driveway connecting Great Alpine Road to the rail trail, and signage.
The council expects the works to be completed by the end of 2018.
Murray to Mountains Rail Trail Friends’ secretary John Bridges said any move or investment that supported the integrity of the trail was good for the trail.
The group recognised that the diversion was integral to flood management in the district.
BIG WET: Flooding in October last year again breached Great Alpine Road near Eurobin – the point where almost one kilometre of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail is to be upgraded to enable single lane bypass during floods.