The Richmond Vale Rail Trail is a proposed 32-kilometre cycling and walking track along the former Richmond Vale rail line between Kurri Kurri and Hexham, along the former Chichester to Newcastle water pipeline between Shortland and Tarro, and through the Hunter Wetlands National Park.
The shared pathway would provide a link for cyclists between Kurri Kurri, Tarro, Minmi and Shortland that would enable them to undertake journeys without having to ride on the Pacific Motorway, Hunter Expressway or New England Highway.
It would provide a great active transport choice for locals and visitors, passing through old railway tunnels and over bridges, amongst wildlife habitats and linking to Hunter Wetlands Centre.
It would also open up the Western section of the Hunter Wetlands National Park to the public and provide opportunities in the key growth areas of transport, tourism, recreation, heritage, and economic and social development.
The proposal is being put forward by City of Newcastle, Cessnock and Lake Macquarie councils, with funding contributions from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Donaldson Conservation Trust, and project management through City of Newcastle
Most of the project requires an internal assessment known as a review of environmental factors (REF). The section that travels through the Hunter Wetlands National Park requires the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) which is a requirement of the Development Application (DA) process. The DA is to be assessed by Council and determined by the Hunter and Central Coast Joint Regional Planning Panel.
Completion of the environmental assessment and concept design of the trail will be used to position City of Newcastle, and its partner councils, to secure future funding for detailed investigation, design and construction.
The following animation shows the proposed route of the Richmond Vale Rail Trail and key features.
The following image shows the concept design for the location of the Richmond Vale Rail Trail.
The Richmond Vale Rail Trail proposed start/end points:
- Shortland along King Street starting at Mort Lane near Akuna Avenue and heading north.
- Tarro behind Anderson Avenue at the south-east end of Tarro Park near the Tarro Interchange.
- Fletcher at the north-west corner of Kural Cresent.
- Minmi behind the northern end of the McInnes Street cul-de-sac east of Woodford Street.
- Kurri Kurri south of the Allworth Street and Mulbring Street intersection. It will then travel along the length of Pokolbin Street on the northern side.
To progress the design and the relevant environmental approvals, the project has been divided into two sections: Shortland to Tarro and Hexham to Kurri Kurri. The staging of each section is slightly different.
Section 1: Shortland to Tarro
The stages for Shortland to Tarro are as follows:
- Stage 1: Prepare concept design. This stage is completed.
- Stage 2: Complete detailed design and prepare the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) supported by the required environmental investigations. View the Shortland to Tarro map (PDF). This stage is completed.
- Stage 3: Submit Development Application (DA) with design and EIS. We are currently at this stage. The DA has been lodged and will be publicly notified on our website on Wednesday 5th August via this link. The public notification period will commence on Wednesday 5th August 2020 and end on Wednesday 2nd September 2020. Details on how to make a written submission within this notification period can be found at this same link. This stage includes submission of the design and EIS to the relevant government departments; public exhibition of the EIS and acceptance of public submissions; and review of submissions and preparation of the submissions report. The DA will be assessed by Council, and determined by the Hunter and Central Coast Joint Regional Planning Panel based on Council's assessment.
- Stage 4: Design review
- Stage 5: Construction
Shortland to Tarro detailed design and EIS
The detailed design has progressed and is complete for the majority of this section. Crossing the New England Highway is the major portion of design outstanding. The field work, investigations and report writing for the EIS is complete and is currently being reviewed. City of Newcastle expects to release these documents for public exhibition as part of the DA process.
The main route of the trail starts at the intersection of King Street and Mort Street in Shortland, moving north west along King Street, going down the hill to enter the wetlands via a bridge across Ironbark Creek. The alternative path throughout the Hunter Wetlands Centre allows for an all-accessible pathway option - giving pedestrians and cyclists the choice of exploring the Hunter Wetlands Centre or continuing along the path to join the main Shortland to Tarro shared path.
The following concept image shows the proposed pedestrian approach to Ironbark Creek with segregated path for cyclists and pedestrians.
Section 2: Hexham to Kurri Kurri
The stages for Hexham to Kurri Kurri are as follows:
- Stage 1: Prepare concept design and prepare the Review of Environmental Factors (REF) supported by the required environmental investigations.
- Stage 2: Assessment of the design and REF by Cessnock and Lake Macquarie councils.
- Stage 3: Detailed design phase
- Stage 4: Construction
Stage 1 is underway with documentation under review. View the Hexham to Kurri Kurri map (PDF)
Hexham to Kurri Kurri concept design and REF
The concept design has progressed and is complete for the majority of this section. The access point at Dog Hole Road, a road crossing and crossing Wallis and Surveyors creeks are the outstanding design issues. There is overlap between the documentation for the REF and the EIS. The field work, investigations and report writing for the EIS is complete and is currently being reviewed. These documents will be available for public exhibition as part of the required DA process.
For more information on this project, please contact us on (02) 4974 2000.