Charlestown to coast cycleway plan hits obstacle

IT’S long been a dream of cyclists – a cycleway from Charlestown to the coast, linking the Fernleigh Track.
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COAL ROUTE: Phil Buckner and Don Owers want a cycle path on the old rail route used by trains from Burwood mine. Photo by Marina Neil

IT’S long been a dream of cyclists – a cycleway from Charlestown to the coast, linking the Fernleigh Track.

The route would use the historic coal-haul railway line at Dudley and take in schools and a public swimming pool on its way to Charlestown.

Dudley residents have been pushing for the track for 20 years.

They were buoyed when Lake Macquarie City Council was set to conduct community consultation on the plan last September. .

Dudley resident Phil Buckner said the council “put the kibosh on it at the last minute”.

Asked why it did this, the council did not directly say.

“Council has a comprehensive cycling strategy that was compiled using community consultation,” it said.

However, in an email to Mr Buckner, the council said its resources “can be more effectively deployed engaging community members about projects that will be funded in the short and medium term”.

Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell said the council’s cycleway strategy had underestimated the cost of the Dudley route.

Mr Buckner said there were “various funding sources we could go for”.

“All we needed was a plan from council and costing,” he said.

Dudley resident Don Owers said Gosford MP Chris Holstein had won millions in state funds for transport infrastructure, including a $25 million pedestrian and cycleway underpass at Woy Woy.

“If they can do that in Woy Woy, they can do it here,” Mr Owers said.

“We are probably going to get a ghastly [Glendale] interchange that will cost more and give land to developers.”

The Dudley miners train at Burwood Colliery. Photo by Ralph Snowball 1898

Mr Cornwell said he was “very supportive” of the Dudley project but the council must do more before applying for state grants.

“Council needs to conduct further consultation with adjacent property owners because they have concerns,” Mr Cornwell said.

Mr Buckner said officials had prevaricated over the plan because of “opposition from a few residents”.

He said the two-kilometre route would require a tunnel under Burwood Road, costing about $1 million, and a further $2 million for the track.

It would be a “fitting acknowledgment of our mining tradition and the men who built the line 122 years ago”, Mr Buckner said.

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