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A COMMUNITY trail running more than 40km from Casino to Eltham is one step closer after the stunning success of a crowdfunding campaign to raise $75,000 in a month.
The Northern Rivers Rail Trail Association last night announced it had hit its ambitious target with just one night to spare.
More than 750 people donated to the campaign, from amounts as little as $2 to as much as $2500, with the average donation around $50.
Rail Trail Association spokeswoman Marie Lawton said the Northern Rivers community had spoken with their generous support.
"They want the rail trail and they want it as soon as possible," Ms Lawton said.
"It is now time for governments and local councils to get on board and start implementing this exciting project."
The money raised in the campaign will be used to help fund an engineering plan and business case for to the trail for submission to the NSW Government.
Lismore and Richmond Valley Councils will co-fund the work with contributions of $50,000 each.
A properly funded engineering plan to assess the cost and design of the project is seen as crucial for attracting public funding.
There is $100 million in funding available now, through the Regional Growth - Environment and Tourism fund and there will be a further two rounds of $100 million.
The railway line in South LIsmore.Marc Stapelberg
Lismore MP Thomas George congratulated the community for their successful campaign and declared he was "fully on board" the rail trail vision.
"I indicated to both councils and Tourism North Coast that I need to have meeting with them to see now what needs to be achieved and what representations I need to make to take that forward," Mr George said.
"I was part of the team that pushed to have the whole Casino to Murwillumbah (rail trail funded) when that money was announced prior to the last election."
"I've been continuously working with Tweed (Shire Council) for the Murwillumbah to Mooball section of the rail trail, and I will now continue to work with Richmond Valley and Lismore City Council along with (Clarence MP) Chris Gulaptis."
Ms Lawton said the trail couldn't come soon enough.
"The community really wants this trail constructed, for jobs, for tourism, and for a safe pathway for bikes, horses, walking, wheelchairs and prams," she said.
"A big thank you to all our supporters for their generosity and commitment to make this happen."
This article first appeared on www.northernstar.com.au
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