Planning is underway for an enticing new trail along the Little Yarra River near Yarra Junction.
The Little Yarra is a tributary of the Yarra River that crosses the existing rail trail from Lilydale to Warburton near Yarra Junction.
This creates the ideal opportunity to build a trail loop along the Little Yarra as an additional experience for riders on the main trail.
The project has been initiated by Melbourne Water in conjunction with the Shire of Yarra Ranges and the first stage is now out for public consultation.
The organisations have proposed a number of sections of new trail to be built in stages, however, only the first stage in planned for delivery in this project.
"We are planning to enhance the quality and extent of streamside vegetation along the Little Yarra River, through the removal of exotic vegetation, exclusion of domestic stock and targeted revegetation,” Melbourne Water says.
"As part of this project we have identified the opportunity of improving recreational activities, amenity, community access and connection to the waterway by constructing a new walking trail along the river which connects with the existing Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail."
Based on the loop nature of the trail network there will be a need to cross the Warburton Highway at 2 locations. Bringing trail users in closer proximity to motor vehicles can pose increased risks.
In order to mitigate these risks as much as possible Melbourne Water have been engaging with experts from Yarra Ranges Council (YRC) and the Department of Transport (DoT) throughout the design process.
Advice from DoT and YRC will be included in functional and detail designs to ensure the trail meets legislative and best practice safety requirements particularly at cross points.
"We are aiming to utilise public land and Melbourne Water owned freehold land as much as possible so as to maximise the benefit these spaces provide to the broader community,” Melbourne Water says.
"This also means that it can be implemented at a reasonable cost without the need to acquire any private land and has the support of the Crown Land manager.
"Community feedback received during consultation on Melbourne Water’s Healthy Waterways Strategy, Yarra Ranges’ Recreation and Open Space Strategy and the draft Yellingbo Conservation Area plan, told us that local people would like more recreational trails in the Yarra Valley and there is consistently high support amongst the broader community for their creation.
"We are investigating a range of options across the landscape for places to potentially install shared use trails, importantly we are looking to create linkages between population centres, community facilities and existing trails to maximise use and improve community access and connection to waterways.
“Evidence from other areas where trails are present indicate that people visiting will extend the duration of their stay if there is increased activities to undertake e.g. walking trails, ability to connect with nature and passive recreation pursuits.
"This can result in an increase to local businesses for food and accommodation and other visitor services."
To date a number planning/due diligent steps have been undertaken in preparation for the capital works including the development of detailed concept plans including flood modelling, boundary re-establishment survey and a cultural heritage management plan.
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