The state government will this week put forward legislation which would enable the North East Rail Trail to go ahead.
The proposed laws would allow disused rail corridors to be used for recreational purposes and provide surety for other projects in the state including the Derwent Valley Line and the North-West Coastal Pathway.
Bicycle Network Tasmanian adviser Garry Bailey welcomed the legislation.
“Proponents of tourism projects – be they bikes, heritage rail or other motorised transport – wanting to use these rail corridors will now have certainty about moving forward with their ideas,” he said.
North East Rail Trail spokeswoman Sarah Hirst said it would be a dream come true to see the project run from the centre of Launceston to 28 kilometres past Scottsdale.
She cited an economic benefit study by Northern Tasmania Developed which showed more than 23,000 people a year would walk or cycle the trail each year.
“Already we are fielding numerous calls from investors wanting to build accommodation, open bike hire and cycling tour businesses,” she said.
“And existing business owners are saying they will now be able to expand, open all year and employ more staff.”
Dorset Mayor Greg Howard estimated it would take up to two years to complete the full 100-kilometre project in his region.
The new laws will allow for the remaining federally-funded 70 kilometres to link to the already-built 28 kilometres of trail.
Cr Howard said a track would have to be constructed beside an existing railway line at Coldwater Creek, which joins the Bell Bay railway line, in order to allow travel to Launceston.
He said the rail trail would create jobs in the North East.
But the final four-kilometre “missing link” link from Coldwater Creek to Launceston has not yet been financed.
“We still need to get into Launceston, there’s not doubt about that,” Cr Howard said.
Treasurer Peter Gutwein said the legislation would allow visitors to enjoy cycling, walking, horse riding and running in the North-East.
When asked if the state government supported the link to Launceston Mr Gutwein said: “That’s a question we haven’t been asked as yet and obviously the first step of this is to ensure that we can take this Rail Trail from here in to Scottsdale.”